California State Sen. Leland Yee, an outspoken advocate of gun control and open government, was arrested yesterday on charges he conspired to traffic in firearms and traded favors in Sacramento for bribes – campaign cash paid by men who turned out to be undercover FBI agents, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Yee, a Democrat who is running for secretary of state, was one of 26 people ensnared in a five-year federal investigation that targeted Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a notorious Chinatown gangster who had claimed to have gone straight.
The charges reverberated through circles of power in San Francisco and Sacramento, shaking up party politics. Leading Democratic senators, weary of recent scandals involving party legislators, called for Yee’s resignation. An FBI complaint, alleged that Chow and five other defendants laundered $2.3 million for undercover agents between March 2011 and December 2013. An agent told them he derived the money from crimes like illegal gambling, drug dealing and marijuana growing. Most of the suspects – four of whom remain at large – are linked to the Chinatown brotherhood association that Chow heads, known as Ghee Kung Tong, whose headquarters was raided yesteray. The FBI reported infiltrating the group so deeply that one agent, while posing as a member of La Cosa Nostra, was “inducted” as a consultant.