The Dresden Files New York City
Aspect Den of Iniquity
Chinatown is owned by the Triad, at least in outward appearance. For those in the know, they are aware of the truth (or what they know of the truth). Yes, the Triad runs Chinatown, but they are also largely populated by ghouls. If you are looking for something? They can find it for you. Regardless of how illegal it is. This includes, drugs, guns, prostitution, etc.
Beginning in the 1960’s with the major influx of immigrants from the Hong Kong exodus, the slow transition of power from the Tongs of NYC’s Chinatown to the Triads Society was mainly a quiet war fought beneath the streets of the Chinatown district within the underbelly of downtown NYC. A few major skirmishes occurred as the Tongs eventually lost ground to the Triads during the 80’s. The major gang war’s final conclusion ended with only one major winner in the Triad dominance struggle. The 14K Society emerged as the triumphant member of the Triads to hold dominance over NYC’s Chinatown.
The current ruler of the underground in the kingdom of NYC’s Chinatown, is 14K’s Triad Deputy Officer – ‘438’ known as ‘Three Oaths Chow’. Little else is known about her. Few are ruthlessness enough to become a direct branch head especially of one as important as New York, but being a female Triad leader would be nearly unheard of and such a person would probably have to be twice as ruthless as any male crime syndicate leader.
White Council files have discovered that the source of power for this Triad leader is the use of supernatural ghouls as the means of enforcement. It has also been confirmed that the current boss of the NYC’s Chinatown branch, ‘Three Oaths Chow’ is a known ghoul. Rumor has it that this Triad branch has already been suborned by another supernatural group that is still yet unknown. The top of the rumors claim that the mysterious Vampire Jade Court is behind this change of power. Yet, very little is even known about this Vampire Court. If they exist at all.
This part of the city is quite different from any other part of Manhattan and is very representative of the counter culture of an Asian community fully entrenched and developed for a over a century. With a language, smell, ambiance and culture all its own, the small area isolated by its own uniqueness is riddled with secret pathways, secret gambling dens and opium dens. It is very difficult to traverse the community without a competent guide to escort outsiders to find whatever it is that they seek and anything can be found if you can find the ‘right’ people to ask. However there is a danger of being mislead, scammed and even killed for such a venture.
While the outskirts are a welcome of merchandise and merchants to haggle with for visiting tourists, the deeper into Chinatown that you delve, the more dangerous it becomes. As different as night and day, the nightlife totally changes the demeanor of the streets of Chinatown as it becomes a night market filled with the areas natives that only come out at night. A community that normally polices itself, local law enforcement has no real power in this district and is usually just a show of force. The only real law that holds force is the unspoken rule of thumb, “Three Oaths Chow and the 14K rule here and their rule is the law.” True to the namesake of the Triad branch that holds court here, there are rumors that ‘Three Oaths’ enforces the rules with an army of 14 thousand ghouls to put down anyone that gets in their way.
New York City’s Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in the United States and the site of the largest concentration of Chinese in the western hemisphere is located on the lower east side of Manhattan. Its two square miles are loosely bounded by Kenmore and Delancey streets on the north, East and Worth streets on the south, Allen street on the east, and Broadway on the west. With a population estimated between 70,000 and 150,000, Chinatown is the favored destination point for Chinese immigrants.
Chinese traders and sailors began trickling into the United States in the mid eighteenth century; while this population was largely transient, small numbers stayed in New York and married. Beginning in the mid nineteenth century, Chinese arrived in significant numbers, lured to the Pacific coast of the United States by the stories of “Gold Mountain” California during the gold rush of the 1840s and 1850s and brought by labor brokers to build the Central Pacific Railroad.
From the start, Chinese immigrants tended to clump together as a result of both racial discrimination, which dictated safety in numbers, and self-segregation. Unlike many ethnic ghettos of immigrants, Chinatown was largely self-supporting, with an internal structure of governing associations and businesses which supplied jobs, economic aid, social service, and protection. Rather than disintegrating as immigrants assimilated and moved out and up, Chinatown continued to grow through the end of the nineteenth century, providing contacts and living arrangements usually 5-15 people in a two room apartment subdivided into segments for the recent immigrants who continued to trickle in. In the nineteenth century, when the tongs originated, few Chinese workers wished to emigrate to the USA. Although many stayed, most came with hopes of return to China. Although tongs were originally created for mutual support and protection, especially from other local ethnic groups hostile to the rapid Chinese immigration, their activities often flouted the law or became outright criminal. Tongs are descended from the Tiandihui, a secret society established to overthrow the Qing dynasty in China in the 18th century, and are similar to other groups worldwide that were also descended from the Tiandihui, known as hui, hongmen, triads, and tongs as well. One of the older societies also trace their roots to the revolutionary movement called White Lotus Society. Tongs are similar to triads except that they originated among early immigrant Chinatown communities independently, rather than as extensions of modern triads. The first Tongs formed in the second half of the 19th century among the more marginalized members of early immigrant Chinese American communities for mutual support and protection from nativists. These Tongs modeled themselves on triads, but they were established without clear political motives, yet they become involved in criminal activities such as extortion, illegal gambling, human trafficking, murder and prostitution. In recent years, some Tongs have reformed to eliminate their criminal elements and have become civic-minded organizations.
Sometime during the birth of Chinatown and today, it is rumored that an unknown group has infiltrated the underground scene. Competing Asian organized crime syndicates know as the Triads continue to plague the metropolitan Chinatowns worldwide where they have their operations. Tongs are Chinese secret societies, which were prominent in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Chinatowns of the 1960’s experienced a rapid influx of working class immigrants from Hong Kong. Underneath the tourist veneer of restaurants, shops, knock-off handbag and designer labeled accessories is the seedier side of the Chinatown world full of indentured servants working their passage off through the laundry or restaurant shops to the garment sweatshops or the sex industry to the illegal gambling or opium dens. The big businesses in the underworld are extortion, weapons trade, fireworks, pirating copyright, human trafficking and exploitation.
The Triad Societies (originally the Three Harmonious Society or the Heaven and Earth Society): The earliest triads started as resistance/rebel forces who opposed Manchu rule in China during the Qing Dynasty, as the Manchurians were regarded as foreign invaders in the predominant Han Chinese society of China then. In the 1760s, the Heaven and Earth Society (天地會) was founded, with its objective to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and restore Han Chinese rule in China. As the society’s influence spread throughout China, it branched into several smaller groups with different names, one of which was the Three Harmonies Society (三合會). These societies adopted the triangle as their emblem, usually accompanied by decorative images of swords or portraits of Guan Yu. The term “triad” was first coined by British authorities in colonial Hong Kong, as a reference to the triads’ use of triangular imagery.
When the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949 in the Mainland, law enforcement became stricter and tough governmental crackdown on criminal organizations forced the triads to migrate to Hong Kong, then a British colony. It was estimated that in the 1950s, there were about 300,000 triad members in Hong Kong.1 By 1951, there were eight main triads operating in Hong Kong and they had divided the land accordingly to their ethnic groups and geographical locations, with each triad in charge of a region. The eight triads were Wo, Rung, Tung, Chuen, Shing, Sun Yee On, 14K and Luen.
As the triads’ power increases, they remain on low-profile but still engage in criminal activities. The scale of triad membership is difficult even for its leaders to ascertain. While some small triads have only about 50 members, the larger ones may have more than 500,000.
Triads have been engaging in counterfeiting since the 1880s. Between the 1960s and 1970s, the triads were involved in counterfeiting Chinese currency, often so of the Hong Kong 50-cent piece. In the same decade, the gangs were also involved in copying books, usually expensive ones, and selling them in the black market. As new technology is introduced and the average person’s standard of living improves, the triads have progressed to producing counterfeit goods such as watches, film VCDs/DVDs and designer apparel such as clothing and handbags.
Face Three Oaths Chow: Leader of the Triad and a ghoul. “Three Oaths” is, as she is nicknamed in the back alleys of Chinatown, is a Chinese female warlord and the third in history for a female to rise to the rank of Deputy Officer (directly reporting to the Leader of the Triad branch- aka the Dragon Head). Of an indeterminate age, she is 5’5” and an athletic Chinese woman who looks to be in her 30’s. Always showcasing the latest fashion of knock-off designer apparel, she is rarely seen without her signature heavy make-up and huge Chanel sunglasses, scarf and sun hat. A heavy smoker, she is also known to ‘chase the dragon’ and is supposedly a mild opium addict. She claims her swarthy skin to the leathery look of her Singapore/Malay ancestry and her stint as a pirate in the Southeast Asian Sea during her youth. An unspoken rumor told in the sex dens is the Deputy’s taste for the ladies, as she doesn’t trust men. Little else is known about her.