Law enforcement authorities arrested 18 defendants Wednesday morning, alleging that they were members or associated with a San Gabriel Valley-based Asian gang known as the Red Door. Defendants were charged with the distribution of the drug Ecstasy, cultivating marijuana, and conducting a sham marriage conspiracy where foreigners paid tens of thousands of dollars to marry American women so they could obtain permanent residency status. The suit names San Gabriel as the site of one of the sham marriages.
Amongst those arrested were Brian Ly, 22, of Alhambra and Edward Su, also 22, of San Gabriel. Both allegedly helped with a marijuana-cultivating operation that was based in Laurel Canyon.
Although gangs often try to bring in revenue through white-collar schemes, a sham marriage conspiracy is unusual, U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek told the Associated Press. The China Press reports that the Red Door Gang is among the "big four" of Chinese-American gangs, with the other three being "China Green," "Bamboo United," and "Four Oceans."
The China Press also noted two recent shifts in membership of these gangs. Increasingly newly arrived immigrants from mainland China are members, writes the China Press, many of them children of wealthy parents who fly between China and the U.S. on business. At the same time, the gangs are now attracting non-Asian members as well.
During the course of the investigation, which law enforcement authorities titled "Operation Paint it Black," a nod to the Rolling Stones song, authorities seized more than 12,500 ecstasy pills, 2,230 marijauna plants and a Lamborghini. Two more defendants named in the case are still at large.
All pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon. November 16 was set as a trial date.