Dynamite
Part Five


 
All the subjects were known to police. The three apart from Wayne were identified as Sai Ying Lee, Yee Yuen Wong and Tom Yu. Present with them in the suite were "Sam" and D.E.A. agent Mel Young, known to Wayne as "Mike."
Wayne told "Sam" and "Mike" that all the boys spoke English, but in varying degrees of fluency. The meeting began in Cantonese, which Wayne translated.
First under discussion were the weapons to be used for the hit. Wayne was worried about the boys carrying guns on the plane from San Francisco. "Sam" explained that as his own responsibility; they would give the guns to him, and the Hawaiian organization would see to it that the pieces reached the islands. The boys would be paid for their weapons, in addition to the hit fee, because the guns would have to be destroyed after use.
"What kind of people is this?" Tom Yu wanted to know. "Chinese? All Chinese? What gang?" Wayne told the boys it was a gang just like theirs.
"No, it's different," "Sam" disagreed. "It is, but it's on a different level."
"It's different people than what, you know, you have here," added "Mike."
"Nothing to do with your Asian community over here," said "Sam" further. He explained a little later that it was different in that their opposition could be a Samoan or a white man or other people, not necessarily another Chinese as was the usual case with the gangs in San Francisco. As it happened, the enemies in question were, indeed, Orientals.
Cautious Tom Yu did not seem satisfied. "But if we go over, it would be very difficult. The police have our pictures. Things are so hot now that if we cross over jurisdictions, they might have our pictures. We might get arrested...place to place has our pictures, you know."
"Mike" gave out the information that they would supply not only the airplane tickets, but also false I.D.'s. "Sam" said he was sure no one knew about Wayne and his group in Hawaii. Wayne was equally reassuring when he reminded the boys that none had outstanding warrants, and those were the pictures most likely to be circulated.
"And I know there's no picture of you [in Hawaii], Wayne," said "Sam."
"I know people who've gone to, you know, New York and Canada, L.A., all over, and they tell me they seen my picture," laughed Wayne, "but I've never been to all these places, man, you know!"
"Sam" moved forward with the logistics of the operation. The group in Hawaii would plan and map everything including the escape route. It would be a cut and dried, professional action, not like the Golden Dragon, which he had heard a lot about here in Chinatown. The boys were to be taken over the areas involved and thoroughly familiarized with them.
Wayne wanted to know if the quarry could be killed together, the two of them, in one place at one time. "The three of them," corrected "Sam." "Mike" thought they would "probably be together, but...."
That "but" disturbed Tom. "If it happens at once, it's one thing. If we have to split it up, it is different. If we have to do it two times, it is not the same."
Wayne clarified Tom's point. "Mike" and "Sam" said, "One time!" as with one voice. The undercover agents quickly saw the folly of making this fictitious operation too complex. Henceforth in the meeting, they joined in silent agreement to keep everything as simple as possible.
"Sam" told them that after it was over, they could disappear, get out of the islands to wherever they felt the safest. San Francisco. China. They could name it. And they'd be given enough money to take care of themselves. "But the guys who do this job are gonna have to be good enough not to panic...like in the Golden Dragon.
In Cantonese, Tom muttered, "We have to think these things over."
"It is better if you speak English, Tom," suggested Wayne.
Tom switched languages. "We have to think it over. We do not know very much." He spoke directly to the two guys from Hawaii, who said O.K.
Then "Sam" wanted to know if the boys were qualified.
"What you mean qualified?" asked Tom in English.
Wayne explained to the islanders that they were all experienced, not first timers. "They understand about these things."
"Sam" referred again to the Golden Dragon mess. Tom grasped the English perfectly, but reverted to Cantonese: "I know what he is saying. We have to do these things right. We know it won't be like the streets...These things would have to be done right especially if they are dealing out money."
"Go ahead, talk to him in English," Wayne encouraged Tom, then, to the islanders: "Their English is varied to the point they're afraid they may be ill-mannered."
"Maybe sometimes we might say it wrong," said Tom.
The meeting continued in both languages, much as before. The boys feared being too vague in English. In Cantonese, they could be blunt and direct. Wayne claimed he could project that. "They're not going to beat around the bush."
The men from the Islands had understood that these were the three who planned to do the job, but Tom made it clear they were not. "We will find people to do it. Youngsters." People not liable as adults, but as juveniles. He proposed they be given time to think about these things and that they meet again.
The agents made an effort to become more persuasive. They reiterated that they would plan everything, even supply the boys with clothes that would make them blend in with the scene.
"Even clothes they give you to wear," Wayne repeated.
Tom displayed more caution than ever. "I know if we decide to do it, we will send people...to look things over...see how the physical setup is there.
Wayne told him they'd have to see if the islanders would put out the money for that. "If they say they can't, they can't."
Tom insisted on checking things out. "If they put out money to commit suicide, would you commit suicide?" Then he conceded that the Hawaii guys were pretty smart.
A long discussion ensued about selection of place, weapons, timing. The islanders brought the Golden Dragon into the conversation again, wanting to know if any of these boys had used similar weapons.
A flicker of suspicion grew in Tom. "Too many people...are asking about these things, and he's asking about the Golden Dragon...", he said in Cantonese to his confreres.
To Wayne, it seemed an innocent train of thought. "He is just asking whether or not you [have] used these kinds of weapons!"
At this moment, a second boy interjected a comment for the first time. Yee Yuen Wong suggested in Cantonese that they had to be careful. Tom agreed: "He asked before if we had used shotguns. Then he asked about the Golden Dragon."
"Yeah," murmured Yee Yuen Wong.
"They're scared about the situation, and they are asking questions about the Golden stuff," Tom went on.
"Yeah," seconded Yee Yuen Wong, "[as] if that's all they read...."
Nineteen-year-old Tom Yu suddenly declared: "Must be police...."
The undercover agents spoke no Cantonese. They had no idea what Tom had said. Wayne, for his part, must have considered Tom's conclusion preposterous. He did not translate it to "Mike" and "Sam." They went on talking about guns, plans, and the money to be paid.
Tom did not withdraw from the discussion, but continued his participation. Like so many people who experience an instant of extraordinary perception, his conscious mind may not have been able to accept so blinding, so devastating, a flash. Nor did it seem to register fully on the other boys. In all probability, judging from subsequent events, none of them took it to heart, certainly not Wayne Yee.
But Wayne's boys left an indelible impression that night on the hearts and minds of Mel Young and Cornell Lee. After the meeting ended, and the agents were momentarily alone, Lee was heard to mutter, "Spooky fuckers!"
Mel Young's thoughts turned to Tom Yu. "Fuckin' killer, that guy!"
Upon examining the video tape and the transcription of the conference at the Sheraton at the Wharf, the Gang Task Force and Hugh Levine realized that they hadn't even begun to get out of it what they had expected--specific, prosecutable evidence with regard to the Golden Dragon. They wound up more impressed by the awe and respect Tom Yu commanded from the others than they were by Wayne Yee, who was several years older and presumably the leader of the pack.
They still thought that Wayne Yee may have been a catalyst in the Golden Dragon affair, like a general who directs textbook battles from yonder faraway hill. But they had to admit they had so far turned up nothing to link him with the massacre. There was, however, the matter of the dynamite sale. Cornell Lee and Mel Young were not finished yet.
Then came March. It started as a lamb-like month for the investigators, but developed surprising vigor as it rolled along. By the time the first month of spring reached the middle of its fourth week, the Gang Task Force made sure it would go out like a lion.
On March 24, 1978, Task Force and A.T.F. teams were dispatched from the Hall of Justice. All carried warrants of arrest related to the Golden Dragon case.
That was a dynamite day.
 

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2000 Brockman Morris