Following on from New York Times bestseller Midnight in Peking, Paul French released City of Devils, a delve into the murky underworld of Old Shanghai. There were plenty of wrong'uns about, and a whole lot of bad blood between them. In this 'Gangs of Old Shanghai' series, French presents us with a who's who of old time organized crime, and quite the rogues gallery it is too.
The Shumchun Triads
Boss: ‘Cabbage’ Moh
Base: Fa Wah Village (north of Fahuazhen Lu)
The Shumchun Triads were named after a small village and railway station on the Canton-Kowloon Railway right next to Chinese mainland border with Hong Kong, and known in the underworld as a smugglers’ paradise. Today we call it Shenzhen… and it’s changed a bit!
Their Shanghai home base, Fa Wah, was a Badlands-within-a-Badlands, located just west of the International Settlement and Frenchtown (take a tour of the Shanghai Badlands right here). Completely un-policed and with easy access to Suzhou Creek, it became the Badlands Docks and received daily deliveries of illegal dope, heroin and guns.
It was here, as well as in the tight cluster of lilong around the Sinza Road (Xinzha Lu), that ‘Cabbage’ Moh ran dope and girls. Cabbage had a fearsome army of triad mobsters to protect him and his business in Fah Wah Village, which he turned into a veritable fortress.
Eventually he got on the wrong side of the Japanese army, though, by not paying sufficient bribes. They cut his head off and stuck it on a pole at the entrance to Fah Wah Village as a warning to anyone else thinking of not paying up.
[Images courtesy of Paul French]