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 37427 Gang
Boss: Luiz Antonio Perpetuo
Base: The 37427 Casino, Bubbling Well Road (Nanjing Xi Lu)
‘Fat’ Tony Perpetuo was Old Shanghai’s other top Portuguese gang boss (read about José Botelho and his Silver Palace Gang here). He was obese with a thick mop of slicked back jet-black hair, and was always seen with at least one woman on each arm. Where José Botelho could be mistaken for a Shanghai taipan sipping a cocktail at the Country Club, Fat Tony embodied the spirit of a gangster from head to toe.
Still, along with the casino and selling opium, when the war came Fat Tony got into the passport and visa business through his own connections at the Portuguese Consulate and down in Macao. His casino was busted the same night as Botelho’s Silver Palace, and he also got no more than a cursory fine from the Portuguese Court. He was on the next boat down to Macao after Botelho, and reestablished himself there, before eventually returning to Lisbon.
[Images courtesy of Paul French]