Flying Dragons (gang)
|Founding location||Chinatown, Manhattan|
|Territory||New York City|
Vietnamese (early 1980s)
|Criminal activities||Extortion, illegal gambling, Racketeering, assault, kidnapping, and murder|
|Allies||Hip Sing Association|
The Flying Dragons, also known as FDS (traditional Chinese: 飛龍幫; simplified Chinese: 飞龙帮; Jyutping: Fei1lung4bong1), are a Chinese American street gang that was prominent in New York City's Chinatown from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Formed in 1967, by immigrants primarily from Hong Kong, they are affiliated with the Hop Sing Tong. Throughout the 1980s, the gang often engaged in bloody turf wars with the newer Ghost Shadows, and their activities included extortion, kidnapping, murder, racketeering and illegal gambling. The gang moved heavily into heroin trafficking after the Italian-American Mafia lost the trade as a result of the Pizza Connection prosecutions in the mid-1980s.
The boss of the gang, Johnny "Onionhead" Eng, was sentenced to 24 years' imprisonment on 14 counts of heroin running and conspiracy in 1993.
Similar to the Triads of China, and the Yakuza of Japan, the Flying Dragons are likely to operate with people of their own ethnicity. Unlike western gangs, gangs such as the Flying Dragons remain fairly unnoticeable by police outside of their own homelands. In the leader Johnny "Onionhead" Eng's criminal case, it is reported the Flying Dragons are a fairly violent gang, being involved in murders and drug trafficking.
The Flying Dragons are said to have operated heavily in Chinatowns in the United States and in Hong Kong. As many Asian gangs did, the Flying Dragons dealt with illegal drugs; mainly heroin. They're also known for extortion and kidnapping. Along with South America, Asia entered the market around the 1970s and have played a larger role in supplying drugs to American consumers.The steady demand for illegal drugs by U.S. consumers, which Asian gangs were a significant part of, has led the U.S. government to wage a war on drugs since the 1980s.
Gang leader Johnny Eng, otherwise known as "Onionhead", was brought up on charges of masterminding an international heroin importing scheme. Prosecutors in Brooklyn federal court say there's a mountain of evidence against him such as 300 pounds of heroin shipped to New York in stuffed animals, strapped to couriers and sealed in steel machines used to wash bean sprouts.
Drug trafficking throughout Chinatown has been greatly reduced due to the discovery of the underground tunnels.
Machine Gun Johnny ("Onionhead") Eng is said to have come to this country around the age of 13 from Asia (Hong Kong). He's believed to be a multi-millionaire, with financial interests in Hong Kong, farms in Pennsylvania and land in South America. There are sources say he took over the Flying Dragons after his predecessor was shot in the eyes in the doorway of the Hip Sing credit union in the spring of 1983. Johnny Eng is known for a case in which he was charged for heroin trafficking, facing life without parole, and mocking the trial with smirks and laughs. After he was released from prison he hasn't been seen since and it is believed that his cousin has taken over.
Vietnamese Flying Dragons
The Vietnamese Flying Dragons were a former branch of the Flying Dragons gang that consisted of primarily Vietnamese members. One of its former members, David Thai, a Vietnamese refugee who had joined the gang in 1983, decided to leave the gang in 1987 after being disaffected by the lower status of the members that were consigned to this particular branch of the gang, who were mostly viewed as "coffee boys" and were ordered to carry out crimes that carried the stiffest penalties such as robbery and murder, and were cut off from the main gang's more lucrative activities such as drug dealing. David Thai would later go on to build his own gang that would rival the Flying Dragons, called Born to Kill, which began to compete with the Flying Dragons and the Ghost Shadows for control and territory over Chinatown.
The Flying Dragons have many roots in Hong Kong. In 1994, in what law-enforcement officials called a major blow to the largest and last of the traditional criminal gangs in Chinatown, 33 suspected members of the Flying Dragons were indicted on federal racketeering charges. Sources described these charges as three murders, 12 attempted murders, heroin trafficking, illegal gambling, arson, extortion and robberies that stretched from Manhattan into Brooklyn and Queens. They've also been said to be located in parts of Canada and Australia.
Asian gang history
The Institute for Scientific Analysis has findings that "indicate that Asian gangs first emerged when a large pool of Chinese immigrant youths who arrived in San Francisco in the late 1960s were forced into self reliance by the city's failure to recognize the needs of its newcomers. The integration of Asian gangs into criminal subculture in the Chinese community, lack of legitimate opportunities available to youths, and hostility from other ethnic and Asian groups fueled subsequent generations of Asian gangs." It believed, because of a series of Chinese Exclusion Acts, there weren't too many Chinese women and children that were allowed to immigrate into the United States before 1965. The Chinese community was composed of a majority adult males, who were primarily bachelors. Consequently, there were only a small number of children, which stifled the development of gangs in China towns. Apparently, the tradition of organised criminal activities, which utilised able young men, came about in the late 1800s. The Institute for Scientific Analysis's sources say "gambling and the use of opium were popular respites from work among the men who lived in Chinatown. Since there were few Chinese women in the United States, prostitution rings formed to serve the needs of bachelors. Many of these activities were run by members of tongs, who sought to ease some of the difficulties recent immigrants faced."
- "Organized Crime from World of Criminal Justice, Gale", n.d. http://search.proquest.com/
- Abadinsky, Howard. Organized Crime. Cengage Learning. p. 197. ISBN 9781285401577.
- Chepesiuk, Ron. The War on Drugs: An International Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 257. ISBN 9780874369854.
- English, TJ (2011-11-15). Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America’s Bloodiest Asian Gang. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781453234273.
- James, George (22 November 1994). "33 Suspected Chinatown Gang Members Are Indicted". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
- "A_Short_History_of_Asian_Gangs_in_San_Francisco.pdf", n.d., http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/A_Short_History_of_Asian_Gangs_in_San_Francisco.pdf
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