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NCJ Number
Crime, Law and Social Change Volume: 19 Issue: 3 Dated: (April 1993) Pages: 245-269
Date Published
25 pages
Although Chinese businesses are often victims of extortion by Asian youth gangs, there is no reliable information on patterns and social processes of such extortion; therefore, this paper explores the structure of extortion and other forms of victimization based on a survey of Chinese-owned businesses in New York City.
Interviews were conducted with Chinese business owners who were classified according to 11 categories representing a range of commercial business activities. The response rate was high, with 580 of 888 selected business owners interviewed. Most respondents were young, educated Cantonese or Taiwanese males from Hong Kong or Taiwan who had been living in the United States for about 10 years. The crime problem in Chinese communities was varied and complex. Most crime was perpetrated by Chinese against Chinese; non- Chinese were rarely victims of assaults, robberies, or thefts. Gangs exercised street power on their turfs, but gang members were not pathological departures from social norms. There seemed to be a subterranean war of succession between established gangs and newcomers. For gangs bold enough to resort to open violence and risk community disapproval, which meant close police surveillance and investigation, gang members formed and coalesced around a charismatic street boss. At the same time, small groups clustered around a core network that had access to money sources from both legal and illegal businesses. The nature of Chinese criminal groups is examined, along with the social context of gang extortion, social processes of victimization, and merchant compliance with or resistance to gang demands. Problems and prospects for Chinese criminality in the United States are discussed. 46 notes and references, 3 tables, and 1 figure

Date Published: January 1, 1993