Links to Chinese Crime Ring Probed in Cache of Arms, Pirated Software


Authorities are investigating links between the Wah Ching Chinese organized crime syndicate and a cache of counterfeit Microsoft software, military explosives and automatic weapons discovered last week at a Rowland Heights home where two Chinese nationals were allegedly being held hostage.

Sheriff’s deputies stumbled onto the case by accident while investigating a check forging case that grew into the alleged kidnaping.

Ming Chin Jin, 36, and his wife, Pifen Lo, 36, were arraigned Tuesday in Los Angeles Municipal Court on felony charges of counterfeiting, weapons violations and the kidnaping for extortion of a La Puente couple whose names have been withheld for their safety. The suspects’ baby-sitter, Yu Chu, 33, was also charged with kidnaping. Two other suspects are still at large, authorities said.


The Wah Ching is a United States-spawned Asian crime group with links to the 300-years-old criminal societies in Hong Kong.

Investigators are trying to determine what the suspects intended to do with six pounds of C-4 plastic explosives and 2 1/4 pounds of TNT manufactured for the U.S. military that were found at the house, said sheriff’s Lt. Bill Christiansen. Investigators are also pouring over 48,000 counterfeit holograms from China found at the home and $400,000 worth of Microsoft Encarta ’95 computer programs--the first time such counterfeit software has shown up in the United States, according to authorities.

The pirated software is similar to $4.7 million worth of Microsoft software seized last month in Alhambra when six suspects of Asian descent were arrested. Authorities say the two groups knew each other but were working independently.

The case started when the La Puente couple who are mainland Chinese nationals notified the San Gabriel Police Department that $5,000 worth of forged checks had been cashed in their name at a San Gabriel bank. The victim identified the forger as a housemate after viewing a videotape of the transaction provided by the bank. Police arrested the roommate, but he posted a $10,000 cash bond and was released.

Later that week the couple vanished. An informer tipped off sheriff’s deputies that they were being held against at a Rowland Heights home in an effort to keep them from cooperating with police. That led authorities to the site.