The Flying Dragons (), also known as FDS, was a Chinese American street gang that was prominent in New York City's Chinatown from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Formed in 1967, by immigrants primarily from Hong Kong, they are affiliated with the Hip Sing Tong. Throughout the 1980s, the gang often engaged in bloody turf wars with the newer Ghost Shadows, and their activities included extortion, kidnapping, murder, racketeering and illegal gambling. The gang moved heavily into heroin trafficking after the Italian-American Mafia lost the trade as a result of the Pizza Connection prosecutions in the mid-1980s. The boss of the gang, Johnny "Onionhead" Eng, was sentenced to 24 years' imprisonment on 14 counts of heroin running and conspiracy in 1993.


Similar to the Triads of China, and the Yakuza of Japan, the Flying Dragons are likely to operate with people of their own ethnicity. Unlike western gangs, gangs such as the Flying Dragons remain fairly unnoticeable by police outside of their own homelands. In the leader Johnny "Onionhead" Eng's criminal case, it is reported the Flying Dragons are a fairly violent gang, being involved in murders and drug trafficking.


The Flying Dragons are said to have operated heavily in Chinatowns in the United States and in Hong Kong. As many Asian gangs did, the Flying Dragons dealt with illegal drugs; mainly heroin. They are also known for extortion and kidnapping. Along with South America, Asia entered the market around the 1970s and have played a larger role in supplying drugs to American consumers. The steady demand for illegal drugs by U.S. consumers, which Asian gangs were a significant part of, has led the U.S. government to wage a war on drugs since the 1980s. Gang leader Johnny Eng, otherwise known as "Onionhead", was brought up on charges of masterminding an international heroin importing scheme. Prosecutors in Brooklyn federal court say there is a mountain of evidence against him such as 300 pounds of heroin shipped to New York in stuffed animals, strapped to couriers and sealed in steel machines used to wash bean sprouts. Drug trafficking throughout Chinatown has been greatly reduced due to the discovery of the tunnels.

Gang leader

Johnny "Onionhead" Eng (aka Machinegun Johnny) is thought to have first emigrated from Hong Kong to the United States in the early 1970s at around the age of 13. Several sources agree that Eng took over the Flying Dragons in 1983, after the murder of his predecessor, Michael Chen in the spring of that year. Chen (nicknamed "The Scientist" for his cool and calm demeanor) had been shot 14 times in the doorway of the Hip Sing credit union, with four of those rounds fired directly into his eyes. Eng is believed to have amassed a great fortune as the organisation's head. Reports claim that he is a multi-millionaire, having used his earnings to purchase a large estate Pennsylvania (where Flying Dragons members allegedly trained with firearms), buy land in South America, and maintain business interests in Hong Kong. Eng and his leadership of the Flying Dragons gained the wider attention of the general public during his criminal trial in 1992. After briefly fleeing to Hong Kong in 1989, he had been extradited back to the United States, charged with smuggling and distributing heroin. Notably, while facing the possibility of a life sentence, Eng was remarkably confident. He regularly smirked in court and was heard to be planning a roast duck dinner to celebrate a not guilty verdict. However, despite this bravado, Eng did not win his case and in 1993 was sentenced to 24 years in prison. It is believed that a cousin of Eng's took over the Flying Dragons at that time and has likely remained in control since. While Eng was given early parole in 2010, he has not been seen in public. However, a year later in 2011, his wife Lori Eng was shot and killed by David Chea, a member of the Flying Dragons.

Vietnamese Flying Dragons

The Vietnamese Flying Dragons were a former branch of the Flying Dragons gang that consisted of primarily Vietnamese members. One of its former members, David Thai, a Vietnamese refugee who had joined the gang in 1983, decided to leave the gang in 1987 after being disaffected by the lower status of the members that were consigned to this particular branch of the gang, who were mostly viewed as "coffee boys" and were ordered to carry out crimes that carried the stiffest penalties such as robbery and murder, and were cut off from the main gang's more lucrative activities such as drug dealing. David Thai would later go on to build his own gang that would rival the Flying Dragons, called Born to Kill, which began to compete with the Flying Dragons and the Ghost Shadows for control and territory over Chinatown.

Overseas activities

The Flying Dragons have many roots in Hong Kong. In 1994, in what law-enforcement officials called a major blow to the largest and last of the traditional criminal gangs in Chinatown, 33 suspected members of the Flying Dragons were indicted on federal racketeering charges. Sources described these charges as three murders, 12 attempted murders, heroin trafficking, illegal gambling, arson, extortion and robberies that stretched from Manhattan into Brooklyn and Queens. They've also been said to be located in parts of Canada and Australia.

Asian gang history

The Institute for Scientific Analysis has findings"A_Short_History_of_Asian_Gangs_in_San_Francisco.pdf", n.d., http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/A_Short_History_of_Asian_Gangs_in_San_Francisco.pdf that "indicate that Asian gangs first emerged when a large pool of Chinese immigrant youths who arrived in San Francisco in the late 1960s were forced into self reliance by the city's failure to recognize the needs of its newcomers. The integration of Asian gangs into criminal subculture in the Chinese community, lack of legitimate opportunities available to youths, and hostility from other ethnic and Asian groups fueled subsequent generations of Asian gangs." It believed, because of a series of Chinese Exclusion Acts, there were not too many Chinese women and children that were allowed to immigrate into the United States before 1965. The Chinese community was composed of a majority adult males, who were primarily bachelors. Consequently, there were only a small number of children, which stifled the development of gangs in China towns. Apparently, the tradition of organised criminal activities, which utilised able young men, came about in the late 1800s. The Institute for Scientific Analysis's sources say "gambling and the use of opium were popular respites from work among the men who lived in Chinatown. Since there were few Chinese women in the United States, prostitution rings formed to serve the needs of bachelors. Many of these activities were run by members of tongs, who sought to ease some of the difficulties recent immigrants faced."



Silent ThreatViolent NYC GangChinese Organized CrimeAsian Gangs are Brothers in Crime

External links

* ttps://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F1061EF935580C728FDDAB0994DA494D81 New York Times - Five Indicted In a Robbery At a Church
New York Times - Wider Chinatown Gang Warfare Feared
{{Organized crime groups in New York City Category:Organizations established in 1967 Category:1967 establishments in New York (state) Category:Organizations disestablished in 1994 Category:1994 disestablishments in New York (state) Category:Chinese-American organized crime groups Category:Former gangs in New York City Category:Street gangs Category:Chinese-American culture in New York City Category:Overseas Chinese organisations Category:Chinatown, Manhattan