Big Circle Boys born of Red Guards

Neal Hall

Vancouver Sun

October 2, 2004

The Big Circle Boys, or Dai Huen Jai, has its origins in the Red Guards, the paramilitary troops of the Chinese Cultural Revolution who terrorized intellectuals and the upper class.

After Mao Zedong's death in 1976, many Red Guards were sent to re-education prison camps around the city of Canton -- represented on maps by a big circle, hence the name -- where they were tortured and starved. Having been through this degradation and having military training, they have a fearsome reputation. A number escaped and fled to Hong Kong, where they obtained falsified documents to come to Canada, coming to police attention in 1987 in Vancouver.

Big Circle Boys are extremely mobile, having a national network in major cities in Canada and the U.S. They are difficult to detect because they work in small cells, which are next to impossible to infiltrate.

Here are some of the criminal activities associated with Asian organized crime:


The mainstay has been heroin from the Golden Triangle of southeast Asia, but in recent years, Asian crime groups have expanded into cocaine and other drugs, including ecstasy and B.C.-grown marijuana.


Loan sharks often frequent casinos, where they charge exorbitant interest rates for loans to pay gambling debts. A Toronto loansharking case heard testimony of how first-time loans of $3,000 had to be repaid in three days. Unpaid loans result in violence and drive-by shootings to force repayment.


Many people from southeast Asia agree to pay $45,000 or more to be smuggled into Canada, only to be exploited as prostitutes or forced into labour to pay off their debts. They are also susceptible to robbery from gangs as their lack of immigration papers makes them fearful of reporting crimes against them. Some become drug couriers and others have serious criminal records before coming to Canada.


Asian crime groups are extensively involved in producing, importing and distributing a wide variety of counterfeit goods, including computer software, video/music recordings, brand-name clothing and Canadian-branded tobacco products, according to the 2004 Annual Report on Organized Crime in Canada, published by the criminal intelligence service.

Advances in computer technology make counterfeit products more difficult to detect. One major concern is the rise of counterfeit prescription drugs, which do not have to comply with health and safety standards. The World Health Organization estimates up to 10 per cent of pharmaceuticals sold globally are counterfeit.

Last year, money counterfeiting increased by 72 per cent -- more than 138,000 incidents -- making it the sixth-largest crime category in Canada. The surge helped drive Canada's national crime rate up by six per cent last year, the first substantial increase in more than a decade.


Shipping stolen vehicles overseas is one of the most profitable crimes for Asian organized crime groups because theft rings only need to pay the cost of stealing and shipping -- generally less than 10 per cent of a vehicle's value.

Stolen vehicles are usually shipped in containers and accompanied by false documentation. Last year in Canada, 171,000 vehicles were stolen -- up five per cent from the previous year, according to a 2004 Statistics Canada report, which estimated about 20 per cent of thefts involved organized crime.

 The Vancouver Sun 2004

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