How do the Chinese triad gangsters make their money?
Triads take part in the full range of criminal activities that most other forms of organised crime gangs do, with a few extra as well. The main money-making activities are prostitution, illegal alien smuggling (or human trafficking), extortion and narcotics production and smuggling. In addition, the theft and extraction of cultural and historical relics from the mainland is also a lucrative trade, as are also credit card fraud, identity theft and the raft of new high-technology crimes that are now providing new streams of revenue generation.
The jungle also provides some of the “Wild Meat” which has become a significant sign of wealth in modern China. In the markets of Guangzhou, in particular, there are cages stuffed full with turtles, snakes, mountain lions, barking deer, pangolins (anteaters), camels, tigers and bears. Many rich Chinese wish to show their wealth to their friends and relatives by treating them to a wild meat meal and others believe that it will help their health and vitality to eat the meat. The belief many have is that eating an animal with a particular virtue will cause that quality to be transferred to the diner – e.g., the courage of the lion, the vitality of the sea lion or the vigor of the snake. Naturally, there are many gangs involved in sourcing, capturing and transporting these creatures, which must be done discretely since much of the trade is illegal, at least by international standards.
Consequently, triad gangs operate across the mountains jungles and deserts of southern and western China searching for precious wildlife destined either for the wok or for traditional Chinese medicine. Those supplying coastal regions are also busy stripping the sea of what treasures may be found, including coral, sea cucumbers, abalone and, in particular, sharks. The demand for shark’s fin soup in almost every Chinese community is very high and most sharks are vulnerable to being captured, having their dorsal fins hacked off and then dumped back into the sea, where they are likely to bleed to death. Again, triad-linked gangs are often responsible for these activities.
Another area in which Triads are active is in the border region with North Korea. The Stalinist North Korean regime is not just very oppressive it has also been very inefficient in providing for the people. Millions are slowly starving and many are forced to eat grass and tree bark to try to gain some additional nutrition. Inevitably, many wish to cross the border into China where they anticipate receiving a warm welcome from the large communities of ethnic Koreans who have settled there over the years in the province which is known as the Yanbian Autonomous Korean Prefecture. Of course, Triad members are also present with offers of high income jobs and international transfers. There is also another form of market demand which stimulates Triad action in this area: the Bare Branches generation. The many years for which the Chinese government has operated a one child per family policy has led to a significant deficit in girls and young women. This happens because Chinese families are very keen to have a son to support them and earn money for their old age, not to mention carrying on the family name and tradition, which is particularly important for a society which continues to place great value on paying respect to ancestors.