The Asian Triads are based primarily in Hong Kong while also active in Taiwan and mainland China. They are highly structured organizations that work through criminal networks where their members organize various enterprises. The Triads are primarily ethnically based and use rituals, oaths, secret ceremonies and incentives to secure personal loyalty. Family affiliation is important within the Triads and individual membership provides credibility and influence. These groups engage in a broad range of criminal activities, including drug trafficking (almost exclusively heroin), alien smuggling, theft, murder, extortion, credit card fraud, prostitution, and illegal gambling.
There are over 160,000 Triad members in Hong Kong alone belonging to around 50 different organizations. Hong Kong is the home base for the Sun Yee On, the 14K, and the Woo Group while the United Bamboo originate their operations out of Taiwan. The Triads also have extensive overseas networks, which allow them to prosper in transnational criminal activities. The Triad groups are assumed to have close ties with "tongs" or chambers of commerce, and the youth gangs that exist in many Chinese communities throughout the United States. It is these relationships that provide for the major importation of heroin from Southeast Asia into the U.S.
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