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FBI sting in San Francisco’s Chinatown reveals organized crime network

By Geoff Schumacher- director of content development for The Mob Museum

FBI sting in San Francisco’s Chinatown reveals organized crime network

An FBI undercover operation in San Francisco’s Chinatown has exposed a vast criminal network run by a well-known convict-turned-community do-gooder named Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

The sting last week also resulted in charges against California state Sen. Leland Yee, who is alleged to have taken bribes from Chow in exchange for political favors. In light of the charges, Yee has withdrawn from the secretary of state’s race.

In all, 26 individuals face charges as outlined in a 137-page affidavit, which can be read here.

The San Francisco Chronicle says the affidavit reads like an “action thriller,” comparing it with the true story behind the critically acclaimed 2013 movie American Hustle:

“Coke deals. Shoulder-fired missiles. Hit men. Gang politics. Deal-making in dark restaurants, parking lots and Las Vegas hotel rooms, and on fishing boats off the Hawaiian islands,” according to the Chronicle.

The story of the undercover agent – known in court documents as “UCE 4599” – is worthy of the silver screen, as this individual became a trusted associate of Chow and others in the Chinatown mob. The Chronicle put together a fascinating sidebar on the undercover agent that can be found here.

The undercover agent first met Chow, known as the “Dragonhead,” in 2010, claiming to be an East Coast member of La Cosa Nostra. As he grew closer to the Chinatown kingpin, he learned of an array of criminal activities, including money laundering, illegal gambling, illegal drugs and trafficking in weapons, stolen liquor and cigarettes.

On a lighter note, the Chronicle also published a piece speculating on who should play “Shrimp Boy” in the movie, concluding that actor Ken Jeong (the Hangover movies, among other roles) would be a perfect choice, while Star Trek’s George Takei, although of Japanese heritage, would be well-suited to play Sen. Yee.

Geoff Schumacher is the author of two books, Sun, Sin & Suburbia: A History of Modern Las Vegasand Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue. He served as editor of Nevada: 150 Years in the Silver State, the official book commemorating the state’s sesquicentennial.