home | business directory | ad | notice | publication | culture | events | service | register | chat | buy/sell

Trail of blood & betrayal

Case explores a darker side of Chinatown

Mei's Beauty Salon on Orchard St. in Chinatown was really brothel - and site of gun and knife attack that nearly killed three people.

A bloodcurdling tale of attempted murder among illegal Chinese immigrants is making its way to a Manhattan jury this week in a trial that has furnished an unvarnished look at the seamy side of Chinatown.

Beginning today, jurors will decide if a man convicted of smuggling illegals aboard the infamous Golden Venture slave ship a decade ago tried to kill three people in a Chinatown-area brothel.

Over the past three weeks, the jury has learned that the defendant, Huang Jian Ming, and his victims were all smuggled into the U.S. over the last decade by Chinese gangsters known as snakeheads.

Ming and one victim, Yong Qin Li, the owner of the Orchard St. massage parlor where the attack took place, were on the Golden Venture, which ran aground off Rockaway Beach in June 1993.

Aboard the Golden Venture, Ming was allegedly a pistol-whipping enforcer. Like most of nearly 300 illegal aliens on board, he was deported. But he later slipped back into the U.S. Li managed to leave a local hospital after being found unconscious on the Queens shoreline after the grounding and was never arrested. He found work as a dishwasher but over the next 10 years worked his way up the ladder in the area's sex industry.

His brothel, which fronted as a legitimate massage parlor at 34 Orchard St., was called Mei's Body Salon, named after Li's girlfriend and business partner.

Prosecutors say that on Dec. 27, 1999, Ming shot Li behind the left ear, then fired a bullet into the jaw of Li's friend Fu Li before slitting the throat of Fu Li's girlfriend, who went to his aid. Somehow, all survived.

"The very reason why Po Di [Ming's nickname] did this remains known only to him," Assistant District Attorney Linn Davis told jurors in an opening statement.

However, Davis also hinted that Ming had big gambling debts and started shooting when his friends refused to lend him more money.

Defense attorney Paul Feinman told jurors that Ming was in Louisiana with his girlfriend and her friends on the night of the assaults.

Feinman has suggested that the attack was ordered by gang-related Chinatown loansharks.

A gruesome account

On the morning of the attacks, Li said he was just winding down from a night of partying when Ming arrived around 7a.m. Li said Ming "didn't answer" when he asked what had kept him out so late. He said Ming only wanted to know how many other people were on the premises.

Eventually, Li said, he lay down on a couch to rest. Then, he said, "I heard two sounds that sounded like the lighter being clicked. The third sound was the gunshot" that put a bullet just below his left ear.

Downstairs, prosecutors said, Ming shot Fu Li and then stabbed him so many times that the knife broke, forcing him to switch to a meat cleaver.

The third victim was Pakong (Alice) Pomtong, Fu Li's girlfriend, a young Thai woman who worked in the massage parlor and was smuggled here by snakeheads, according to investigators.

When Alice went to help him, Fu Li said, he heard a sound that reminded him of pigs squealing when "they're about to be slaughtered."

It was the sound of Alice's throat being cut.


lineancient.gif (2231 bytes)




About us   Register  Advertise   Contact us  Privacy
Copyright 1999-2002, Chinatown Online Co. All rights reserved.