The deadly business of gangs

I don’t have a lot of time before I head into work this morning, but I wanted to mention my story in today’s Herald about the impending release of Henry Nguyen.

Nguyen, 23, will be freed later this month on mandatory release to serve the remainder of his 32-month drug trafficking sentence in the community. Although Nguyen was turned down for parole, statutory release is mandated by law for offenders at the two-thirds mark of their sentences, so all the parole board could do in his case was impose several conditions on him — including forcing him to live at a halfway house under curfew.

Nguyen is a convicted drug dealer who went from doing business with FOB to becoming a trusted member of the gang sometime around 2005. Parole documents revealed it didn’t take long for Nguyen to become involved in the war between FOB and the FOB Killers, which to date is responsible for at least 25 homicides since 2002.

In July 2005, a masked gunman killed FOB members Dat Le and Chuong (David) Tran as they sat in an SUV parked at a northeast strip mall. Three days later, police followed and stopped two carloads of FOB members and associates — including Nguyen — in the city’s northwest. The occupants allegedly tossed loaded handguns from the vehicles before police pulled them over. The ensuing weapons charges were subsequently stayed, but the inference was clear: they were out for revenge that night.

What the courts couldn’t prove about that incident, Nguyen basically admitted, telling corrections officials he was “aware of the purpose of the trip (an execution of a rival gang member),” and he was “there willingly and were there to learn,” according to parole documents.

The gun incident was widely publicized at the time, but what has been kept under wraps until now is that Nguyen was targeted for death in January 2008.

Tensions were running high after Mark Kim, a veteran member of FK, was shot and killed in a downtown laneway on Dec. 31, 2007. Police became aware of a threat against Nguyen and offered him and his family protection — which they accepted: “In January 2008, police intervened and sequestered you and your family, as (police) had informtion that you were to be the victim of a home invasion which could have led to you or others being injured, wounded or killed,” read a passage in Nguyen’s parole records.

Like the parole hearing for FOB veteran Roland Chin last year, Nguyen’s records offer a glimpse into the violent and brutal world of gang members — an existence devoid of the bravado people may see publicly.

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Filed under Corrections, Gangs

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