In a short period, the Green Gang changed from an old fashioned Northern Chinese group of sworn brothers into one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.
At the center of the Green Gang’s metamorphosis was one man. His name was Du Yue-sheng. Du grew up an orphan and illiterate near Shanghai.
When Du was fourteen, he arrived in Shanghai and spent the money he earned on opium and women. In 1910, Du was sworn into the Green Gang.
Du lived and worked out of the French Concession in Shanghai where the police were the criminals.
In 1924, Du had an opportunity to become the leader of the Green Gang when the current leader, Wong, had the son of a powerful warlord beaten. The warlord then had Wong arrested and tossed in prison.
Du paid the warlord to free Wong, who then owed Du a debt of gratitude. From that day on, Du controlled the Green Gang.
In 1927, General Chiang Kai-shek made a deal with the Triad Du controlled to destroy the Communists in Shanghai who were organizing labor unions.
Frederick Wakeman, a historian at the University of California-Berkeley says that Du was threatened with the possibility of a Communist victory.
Thousands of Green Gang members went after the Communists to shoot and behead as many as possible. Within hours, at least five thousand Communists had been executed.
As a reward, Chiang Kai-shek made Du a general in the Nationalist Army. Du’s public image became one of respectability while he maintained an iron control over Shanghai and the Green Gang.
For Chiang Kai-shek, the alliance with Du and the Green Gang became a useful way to raise money from Shanghai’s wealthy families.
Du was also in charge of the agency to stop the opium trade in Shanghai and he controlled the drugs seized by the Nationalists, which he would sell making a huge profit.
Return to The History of Organized Crime in China – Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.
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Interesting as I have an eBook, ‘A Circle Has No End’ which includes much of Du and the Green Gang in 1936/7 – although their involvement with my characters is fictitious. They also feature in my second book, ‘The Hong Kong Circle’ now in progress. I have some information and links in my web site