It was a sweltering summer day in 1990 and more than 100 Asian gang members and their families gathered at Rosedale Memorial Park Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey, to bury 21-year-old Vinh Vu, the number two leader of the violent Born to . Kill Gang (BTK).
Suddenly, three men approached in long coats that covered the automatic weapons they carried. These men then did the unthinkable: they opened fire on the mourners and chaos broke out. Scared people ran in all directions, including the leader of the gang, David Thai, and the Vietnamese refugee Tinh Ngo, 19, named Timmy by his companions. More than 100 rounds were fired into the crowd. Five mourners were injured, but surprisingly, no one died.
Tinh, like most typically adolescent gang members, had no family in America and leaned toward the mostly Vietnamese BTK gang for the same reason as the other gang members: he wanted a sense of family in a land. foreigner: people who could. trust and converse with in your mother tongue. Tinh never realized that he would be dragged into a nest of vipers, where the 34-year-old Thai would order his subordinates to commit violent crimes – retaliation, robbery and even murder – against other Asian immigrants, people who traditionally never reported crimes to police.
Tinh did his first dirty deed when he participated in the robbery of a Chinese brothel in Chinatown. Although Tinh did not enjoy the mischief, it still gave him a sense of exhilaration, knowing that he was now “one of the gang”. While committing robbery after robbery, Tinh slowly began to question whether this violent life was destined for him.
David Thai feels that his subordinates across America are wreaking havoc. In the late 1990s, Thai led a BTK group, including Tinh, to Doraville, Georgia, to rob a Chinese curio shop owned by Odum Lin. Lin, unimpressed with the gangsters who barely shaved, resisted and was shot in the side of the head.
Miraculously, Lin survived, but Tinh did not know that the owner was still alive; thought he was an accessory to the murder. This senseless shooting sent Tinh to the top, and when he was arrested on a lesser charge shortly after, he came across a group of investigators, federal and New York City law enforcement officers, who were trying to build a case against Born. Kill Gang, and its leader David Thai specifically.
Tired of gang life, Tinh easily changed, and under the guidance of New York City Detective Bill Oldham, ATF Special Agent Dan Kumor, and Assistant United States Attorney Alan Vinegrad, he began using a cable during their meetings. with Thai and other major BTK gangs. members.
In Born to Kill, TJ English, a former New York City taxi driver and author of another excellent book, The Westies, gives us a vivid account of Tinh’s confidential activities that decimated the Born to Kill gang. Tinh’s inside information was so accurate; Kumor and Oldham were even able to thwart several BTK robberies before they could occur.
At first, Tinh was terrified of carrying a wire. On one occasion, while Tinh was sitting in the living room of a safe house watching television with other BTKs, another member of the gang noticed a red glow inside Tinh’s shirt. The glow was the light from his tape recorder’s battery that was glued to his chest.
Thinking he was now a dead man, Tinh ran to the bathroom, pulled out the tape recorder, and then sneaked back to the living room to await his fate. Surprisingly, the other gang member was glued to the TV and barely noticed that Tinh had left the room and back. Tinh muttered something about a wrong pager to the gang member who had noticed the red light; the gang member believed Tinh’s explanation, and Tinh was safe, for now.
After Thai attempted to implicate his gang in a robbery in concert with Italian mobsters from New Jersey, which was again prevented by Tinh’s internal knowledge of the impending event, Oldham, Kumor, and Vinegrad decided it was too dangerous for Tinh to remain undercover. . They took Tinh off the streets and began the prosecution of Thais and other high-ranking BTK officers. This resulted in Thai being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.