"Operation Smoking Dragon" nets 16 arrests


The massive operation involved the FBI and local police from the Bay Area, Sacrament as far away as Denver. Dubbed "Operation Smoking Dragon," it targeted Asian street gangs. The most prominent, according to police, the Hop Sing, sought for trafficking marijuana and huge quantities of ecstasy.

Those arrested in the Bay Area Wednesday morning were arraigned in federal court on the drug related charges. Those who spoke little English requested Chinese translators.

Law enforcement sources tell ABC7 they are members of a gang that grew out of the notorious Jackson Street Boys which has roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. The arrests were the result of an 18-month investigation.

"I know of no resistance, nobody fired weapons and it was definitely successful. Everybody went home safe," says FBI agent Joseph Schadler.

In Denver, federal agents ended their two and a half year investigation by arresting 21 people. A multi-agency task force seized cash and 10,000 ecstasy tablets.

The Justice Department says all those arrested are members of the Asian Pride Gang based in Colorado.

"These Asian Pride Gang members and associates are believed to have distributed literally hundreds of thousands of MDMA or ecstasy pills in Colorado alone," says Colorado U.S. Attorney Tony Eid.

Most of the Bay Area arrests occurred in the East Bay. In Oakland, agents raided a Thai restaurant on 19th and International.

In San Francisco, federal agents and members of the city's gang task force made numerous arrests. Among the locations were a Chinatown apartment on Beckett Alley, a home on 24th Avenue in the Taraval District and a flat on California Street in the Richmond.

ABC7 spoke with Song Gong whose brother, 21-year-old Song Fa Gong, was taken into custody by the FBI.

Song Gong: "He was in China for six months. He just came back two weeks ago. I'm not sure what happened,"

Vic Lee: "Then he got arrested this morning? Did the FBI tell you anything at all as to why?"

Song Gong: "No, it's just about drugs."

In Sacramento there were 11 arrests. Law enforcement sources tell ABC7 that the gang is an offshoot of the old Jackson Street Boys. You may recall that no too long ago a series of car vandalisms in Daly City in which a suspect arrested was a member of the Jackson Street Boys.

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