The Chinese Mafia aka the Triads is one of the largest organized crime groups in the world. This dangerous gang is responsible for many international criminal activities.
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Number 7: History
‘Triad’ is an approximate translation from the Chinese term ‘San Ho Hui’ also known as ‘Triple Union Society’ as it is symbolic of the union between Heaven, Earth and Man. Triangle imagery is a predominant motif present throughout the organization. The origins of the Triads can be traced back as far as 1000 B.C. At first they reportedly were secret groups formed by peasants who were being oppressed by their rulers. Among the many legends regarding the roots of the Triads is also one which claims that they were initially created by Chinese monks, who had pledged to combat the injustice they saw in their society. In the 1760s a fraternal organization called The Heaven and Earth Society was founded by the Hung clan. As its influence throughout China grew, it separated into smaller groups which also adopted the triangle emblem. The symbol was often found in the same context with portraits of Guan Yu, a legendary Chinese
The Triads are essentially family-run forms of organized crime which mainly operate in China, Hong-Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. However, their influence is also present in Chinatowns across the world, in countries such as Canada, Australia, the US, New Zealand and many others. The total number of members is unknown mainly due to the constant flow of new recruits. Some specialists
The recruitment of new members often involves a recommendation from one of the older ‘brothers’ of the Triad. A trial period follows, during which the new recruits perform a series of crimes with the established members, to determine their loyalty to the organization. When the decision is made that the new recruit should enter the ranks of the Triad, an elaborate initiation ceremony takes place. Information provided by an undercover police officer described that the traditional ritual usually follows 18 steps. During the ceremony the initiates
4: Signs & Symbols
Members of the Triads can speak to each other without uttering a single word. Many of the body language techniques they use to communicate are still unknown. They use certain hand gestures to indicate the rank of a member or to talk about someone who has committed a serious crime in the Triad’s name. Other forms of communication are even more subtle. Members can tell each
3: Criminal Activity
The 19th century brought about the first bans on the opium trade. While Hong-Kong was under British administration in 1946, drug distribution became illegal. The Triads took control of the underground market and became involved in international drug trafficking. The drug trade intensified in the 60s and 70s. The opium was taken from plants in the Golden Triangle (an area famous for massive drug production which overlaps three countries: Myanmar, Laos and Thailand). Then it was transformed into heroin in China. The product was then distributed to Europe and North America. The 14K, the second largest known triad, is a major player in large-scale heroin distribution around the world. Prostitution and gambling are among other operations. There are numerous facilities in Hong Kong which offer sex services. Organized prostitution is illegal and many believe it is controlled by the Triads. In Hong Kong, legal restrictions have pushed the Triad’s gambling operation underground. A Hong Kong police officer described the situation “When a new casino opens, the ‘owners’ tell their acquaintances about it and they tell theirs.
2: Notorious Triads
Although there are many other organizations based around the world, the most powerful and most influential Triads are based in Hong Kong. The largest is the Sun Yee On with more than 56,000 members worldwide. Their main rival is the 14K Triad with 25,000 members worldwide, who are divided into 30 subgroups. Sun Yee On was founded in 1919 and throughout the years its criminal activity has included narcotics, prostitution, human trafficking, gambling and extortion. Its current dragonhead is unknown, although many
1: Triad Violence
As is the case with many criminal organizations, the Triads fight among themselves over power, influence and territorial control. The symbolic instrument of Triad punishment, torture and execution is the kitchen meat cleaver. Severed limbs are sometimes sent to