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From Religious Cult to Criminal Gang: The Evolution of Chinese Triads (Part 1)

NCJ Number
Journal of Gang Research Volume: 9 Issue: 4 Dated: Summer 2002 Pages: 25-32
Hua-Lun Huang Ph.D.; John Zheng Wang Ph.D.
George W. Fox Ph.D.
Date Published
8 pages
The authors provide a historical overview of the development of the Triads, a type of Chinese organized crime gang.
The authors provide a description of the historical development of the Triads in response to past articles which have failed to distinguish between the Triads, Chinese street gangs, and Chinese organized crime groups. The Chinese Triads have been linked to transnational organized crime activities such as human trafficking and drug trafficking. This paper is the first in a three part series. This portion of the series explores the historical foundations of the Triads. The second article will discuss the differences between the Triads, Chinese street gangs, and Chinese organized crime groups. The third will provide the authors’ suggestion for a theoretical framework for understanding the Triads. The various evolutionary phases of the Triads are explored beginning with the development of secret societies based upon Daoism. The religious development of those groups are discussed. The second identified phase of Triad development is the Green Gang period during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. According to the authors, the Green Gang development period begins the transition to an organized criminal enterprise. 7 notes, 23 references


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