On 26 April, Taichung, in central Taiwan, hosted a crowd of around 20,000 people gathering to pay their respects to Lee Chao-hsiung, leader of Taiwan’s Big Lake criminal organisation. Among the mourners were representatives of other major criminal groups, including figures from Japan’s yakuza and from one of Taiwan’s most powerful criminal organisations, the Four Seas gang.
According to Taiwanese police, the Four Seas is one of the country’s major triad criminal organisations, alongside the Bamboo Union (also United Bamboo) and the Celestial Alliance. However, although highly influential, the Four Seas gang does not pose a major threat to Taiwan’s stability. The organisation rarely engages in open violence, such as gun fights, and relies more on targeting individuals with threats and extortion.
Warming ties between Taiwan and China, and increased trade and cultural contact will continue to create new opportunities for triads operating in China to become involved in activities in Taiwan, including Four Seas leaders who fled to the mainland. Whether this results in more activity by criminal organisations, or even in a change in their operations, will depend on the success of cross-strait co-operation in crime fighting and the longevity of such bilateral initiatives.
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