Chinese Mafia ‘setting base in Nairobi’

By Nyambega Gisesa

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The dreaded Chinese mafia appears to be setting base in Nairobi as the Asian giant increases its local investments, The Nairobian has reliably learnt.

Our inquiries indicate that the global criminal syndicate is targeting the growing Chinese population and businesses in Kenya. All over the world, the Chinese mafia is known to be involved in human trafficking, prostitution, loan-sharking, gambling, murder and gun smuggling.

It also claims to offer protection to Chinese abroad for a fee. They are a sophisticated and dangerous group, whose influence cannot be ignored.

“Some of my friends in the Hurlingham area say they have been approached by characters offering to get lucrative deals for them and offer protection. I’m also aware they are setting up brothels that exclusively have trafficked Chinese women to service their citizens in Nairobi,” says a Chinese businessman, who did not wish to be named.

Our source believes that even though there have not been widespread reports of such organised criminal enterprises in Nairobi, there are fears that the few that are operating in Kenya could be setting up the foundation for something bigger. He says some of the suspected criminals have unique tattoos that identified them.

If confirmed, the supposed presence of the Chinese Mafia in Kenya’s capital dovetails into a trend elsewhere in the world where the group sets up base in cities with growing Chinese populations and investments. Crooked businessmen from the Asian countries operating abroad do not usually mind working in concert with the criminals.

A security expert, who spoke to The Nairobian on condition of anonymity, also alleged that the increased poaching could be linked to Chinese criminal gangs. In the first six months of 2013 more than 7.5 tonnes of ivory was seized in Kenya, more than was seized in all of 2012.

In the recent past, many Chinese nationals have been arrested attempting to smuggle ivory out of Kenya. Many more are said to have successfully shipped out such precious, but illegal, commodities.

The Chinese embassy in Kenya has denied claims that their citizens are involved in crime and distanced the Asian country from the rising levels of poaching.

Chinese gangs, who are also known as the Yellow Mafia or the Chinese Triads, refer to the conglomerate of criminal syndicates concealed within Chinese communities around the world. The Chinese Triads are collectively known as the ‘Dark Society’ or ‘Black Society’, and share similarities with the Russian mafia, Italian mafia and the Japanese Yakuza.

Concerns about the Chinese Triads are not only limited to Kenya. Researchers have pointed out that Chinese organised criminal entities operate in virtually every African state, especially where there is a sea coast and a mining or extractive industry. Chinese gangs are the major buyers of ivory, shark fins, rhino horns and illegally-mined gold and diamonds. In Botswana, the mafia has been accused of being responsible for murders targeting the Chinese community.

Last year, Angola repatriated Chinese ‘gangsters’, who were engaged in kidnapping and blackmailing, and sometimes stealing from rich and respectable Chinese in Angola. The deported men were part of Fuqing, a Chinese gang that has taken root in Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Russia.

Fears of Chinese mafia in Kenya come at a time after the deportation of Kurtasov Andrey also known as Andrei Kourtasov on July 6, a Russian who was alleged to be a notorious mafia boss in Nairobi.

Nonetheless, city police boss Benson Kibue told The Nairobian that claims of Chinese Mafia in the capital are inaccurate.

“That is false information. We have not received any such reports. In fact, it is the Chinese that are being targeted and we have handled many attacks against them. Anybody with details on Chinese criminals should tell the police,” Kibue said.