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Feds' Kung Pow! Smash Top Gang in Chinatown

October 23, 2008, New York Post. [link]

Federal agents busted 11 reputed mobsters yesterday as the government broke up a vicious Chinatown gang that allegedly inflicted brutal beatings to muscle in on private bus and van companies.

Gang members with nicknames like "Fatty," "Big Flower" and "Vegetable Duck" also dealt drugs and ran illegal gambling dens, according to a five-count racketeering indictment filed in Manhattan federal court.

Beginning in 2005, the so-called "Banya Organization" - named after its members' hometown in China's Fuchow region - allegedly began targeting operators of two interstate bus companies to extort partial ownership and a share of the profits.

Neither company was identified in the indictment.

More than a dozen cut-rate bus companies have sprung up in Chinatown since the late '90s, offering rides to cities like Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, for as little as $10 a trip.

Other crimes alleged in the indictment include a March 15, 2005, kidnapping conspiracy and an illegal bookmaking and gambling operation that dates to 2004.

The gang also was accused of trafficking in ketamine, a horse tranquilizer and hallucinogen known as the club drug "Special K."

The Banya Organization, which also operated in Flushing, Queens, raked in at least $10 million in illegal profits, according to the indictment.

Ten reputed gang members were nabbed early yesterday in nightclubs and during traffic stops in Queens, and an 11th member was picked up in Coral Gables, Fla., the feds said. Two others remain at large.

The 10 arrested locally pleaded not guilty during arraignments yesterday evening before US Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis.

None of their lawyers challenged a request by prosecutor Steve Lee that they be held without bail pending another court appearance on Tuesday.

In 1996, after the arrests of 35 Chinese gang members for extorting money from new immigrants, then-Manhattan US Attorney Mary Jo White claimed the government was "on the verge of finally cleaning Chinatown from the grip of violence and lawlessness that has plagued it for decades."

But criminal gangs have maintained their hold on the area, with experts saying that the 100-strong Flying Dragons continue to make money from drugs and protection rackets..


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