Reputed San Francisco Chinatown mob boss, Raymond (Shrimp Boy) Chow, an Asian gangland legend on the west coast of the United States well before his alleged crowning as the undisputed King of Chinatown almost a decade ago, is in a heap of legal trouble. The feds think Chow killed to acquire his power and standing in the Chinese mafia and in the community and then killed again years later to keep it.

The 55-year old convicted felon is facing racketeering and murder charges based on a five-year federal undercover investigation that is being split into two separate trials. He was convicted in the first trial for the racketeering offenses (extortion, gambling, money laundering, drug trafficking, cigarette-&-liquor smuggling, receiving and selling stolen property) in early January 2016. The U.S. Attorneys Office is seeking the death penalty in the murder cases. Democratic State Senator (CA) Leland Yee, a close Chow associate, was convicted in the same racketeering case earlier this year.

Nicknamed “Shrimp Boy” by his grandmother as a child for his small stature, Chow came to America from Hong Kong as an aspiring 5-foot-5-inch tall, 16-year old gangbanger in 1976 and settled in California. Admittedly involved in gang activity back in Hong Kong since he was 8, Shrimp Boy was fast to build a reputation as a brash, borderline-reckless, yet immensely-respected fixture in San Francisco’s Chinatown underworld. Within a year, he was entrenched at the top of the neighborhood’s “JV” criminal food chain – Chow was present, however came out unscathed in the city’s infamous Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant Massacre, a youth gang shootout that left five people dead and another dozen wounded. After the massacre, Chow emerged as head of the Hop Sing Boys, a young-gangster conglomerate tied to the Hop Sing Tong.

A tong is a traditional fraternal organization in Chinese-American neighborhoods founded for benevolent purposes in the1800s during the first major Asian immigration wave, but through the years some have taken on the look and feel of mob syndicates. Today, the well-dressed, charming and media-friendly Chow is the “Dragon Head” of the Gee Kung Tong (sometimes spelled “Chee Kung”) and on the board of directors of the Hop Sing Tong. Federal authorities believe his leadership in both played a role in his ordering the two high-profile gangland slayings detailed below – the murders of Allen (Uncle Al) Leung and Jimmy Tat (the Gorilla) Kong.

Serving a pair of prison sentences in the late-1970s and early-1980s for armed robbery and firearm offenses tied to a shootout in a Chinatown alley, respectively, Shrimp Boy graduated from boss of a youth gang to the second-in-command of the Wo Hop To crime syndicate, a Hong Kong Triad Family’s North American faction led by then-Chinatown Godfather, Peter (Uncle Pete) Chong.

Ambitiously, in around 1990, Chong and Chow attempted to unite all of San Francisco’s Asian gangs under one banner they proposed to be called the “Whole Earth Association.” Their attempt to form a Chinatown co-op failed, violence ensued and the feds levied a RICO indictment in 1992. Chong fled overseas and Chow was convicted, sentenced to 25-years in prison.

Finally captured in Hong Kong in 2000, Chong was extradited back to California to stand trial. Feeling betrayed by his mob mentor, left to bear the brunt of the bust on his own, Chow agreed to testify against Chong in return for reduced time behind bars.

If you ask the government, when Shrimp Boy Chow was released from federal custody in 2003, he went back to a life of crime, quickly and successfully angling to become the new Godfather of San Francisco’s Chinatown mob empire. Bolstered by a pair of former Chow enforcers ready to take the witness stand against their one-time “Dai Lo,” and an undercover FBI agent posing as an east coast Italian wiseguy who infiltrated Chow’s inner circle via an introduction from another undercover federal operative posing as an Asian-mob connected businessman, prosecutors allege Shrimp Boy had at least two people killed on his way to and time at the top: Allen Leung aka “Uncle Al” & Jimmy Tat Kong aka “The Gorilla.”

Chow was arrested in March of the 2014. He’s pled not guilty.

The Allen (Uncle Al) Leung Murder – On the afternoon of February 27, 2006, Leung, the leader of the Chee Kung Tong, a board member in the Hop Sing Tong and a reputed elder statesman of the local Chinese underworld, was gunned down in his office, where he ran an import-export business buying and selling shark fins from China – a delicacy at Asian weddings. Beginning in 2005, Chow allegedly tried to extort $125,000 from Leung and the Gee Kung Tong and when they refused, the Gee Kung Tong’s headquarters was shot up and vandalized with spray paint. Leung helped the FBI with the inquiry into the attempted shakedown and vandalism, pointing the finger at Chow and telling police he worried Chow was going to kill him. He was 56 at the time of his death and Chow succeeded him as “Dragon Head” of the Gee Kung Tong, shortly thereafter. Chow bragged to a wired-for-sound FBI agent “Even back then with Allen Leung, when I’m talking to him, I tell him one time, I don’t like people enough to give them a second time…you fuck around, you gone. I tell you one time that’s it.”

The Jimmy (The Gorilla) Kong Murder – On October 17, 2013, Kong, a seasoned Chinatown gangster, drug dealer and racketeer, was found shot to death alongside his wife, Cindy Chen, execution style, in a minivan parked on the side of a Mendocino, California road. Shrimp Boy Chow isn’t charged in the Chen homicide, just the Kong hit. According to court records, Chow and Kong, 51, were feuding over Kong’s desire to grab total control of the Hop Sing Tong for himself  and his use of intimidation tactics in regards to other Hop Sing heavyweights, not to mention an extramarital affair he carried on with Chow’s friend’s wife which supposedly drove a wedge even further between the two former allies. The vehicle Kong and his 38-year old wife were found murdered in had a garbage bag full of marijuana in it and police believe they were set up by their killers to think they were coming to a drug sale. Kong and Chow had squared off in a heated verbal altercation in the middle of Chinatown in 2011. That same year, Kong was voted off as a Hop Sing Tong board member. Some have suspected Kong was the shooter in the Leung slaying. Jimmy the Gorilla had reportedly tried taking refuge from Chow’s wrath in Los Angeles in the months preceding his murder.

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