A community struggles as more drug-dealers move into Chinatown
By Tingting Zhao

With drugs come crime

Kevin Smith, 36, an officer of the Boston Police Department, said on average, he might see about 20 drug users in a typical patrol from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Chinatown area, boarded by Essex Street, Tremont Street, Marginal Street and South Station.

What’s more, he said, drug use and crimes, like theft and violence, usually go hand in hand.

Police reported 14 violence-related crimes in Chinatown in February 2004. That’s twice the number during the same period last year. Property-related crimes in February increased to 23 from 9 of last February.

Violent and property crimes, depicted here, increased between February 2003 and February 2004.
Neighborhood complaints, otherwise known as “quality of life issues,”
that were reported to the police in February 2004.

Wong, a Chinatown native and the president of the Chinatown Business Association, owns Reggie’s Bar on Beach Street. He believes that the best way to fight against the drug dealers is to do it himself. So he began to openly watch the drug dealers after noticing more of them on the street.

“Sometimes I stand here all day,” he said. When he sees suspicious people hang out in the street, he asks or warns them to leave.

“I asked them, ‘What are you doing here?’” Wong said. “They said, ‘nothing,’ then left.” Sometimes drunken loiterers challenge him by talking back. But Wong said he has no fear of standing watch.

Ironically, Wong explains, things seemed easier two decades ago, when Chinese gangs operated gambling parlors in the neighborhood. They ran their own money-making scams but generally kept the drug dealers away.

“I (liked) the gangs,” Wong said. “They don’t bother the businesses.”

After a police crackdown on the gangs and the decline of underground gambling, the gangs disappeared from Chinatown a decade ago.

“The gangs kept drug dealers out,” Wong said. “When we had no gangs, drug dealers moved in.” The problem, Wong said, has worsened this year.

Next:Keeping the neighborhood safe

Inside this story:

Chinatown Home
1.With drugs come crime
2.Keeping the neighborhood safe
3.Help from the police

Know more about...

Boston Police Area 1
Chinatown Safety Committee


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