This woman is a big time Tai Kar Che (Big Sister, in Cantonese), in New York's Chinatown. This is a story of how Cheng Chui Ping rose from being a poor girl from a village in Fujian, China to becoming Tai Kar Che of New York's Chinatown, with connections with the powerful Chinese triads.
She started from nothing to becoming so rich in New York that she bought a building for US$3 million (approximately RM10 million), in cash, and reportedly transferred US$40 million (approximately RM130 million) to China.
She started as a general worker in a Chinese restaurant and later got into the business of smuggling illegal immigrants - she became a big time Snakehead.
Snakeheads (called "Sheah Thau" in Cantonese) are Chinese gangsters or triads that deal in human trafficking - they smuggle people to other countries. They are mainly found in the Fujian region of China and smuggle their "customers" (often from China and Vietnam) into wealthier countries in Western Europe (mainly the UK, France, Germany, Denmark),America, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Because of culture and language, in Western countries, these illegal immigrants will be confined to work mainly in Chinatowns, but in Asian countries with a sizable Chinese population, they work in numerous small Chinese businesses away from the sight of the authorities.
The Snakeheads fees vary according to the country, but can be as high as US$50,000 per person. Snakeheads use various methods to get their customers into countries - they usually use stolen or altered passports, illegally obtained visas, and bribe officials.
In order to pay the "fees" to the Snakeheads, many of these illegal immigrants end up working in "under the table" low-wage (often lower than the minimum wage) service jobs, e.g., as restaurant waiters or dishwashers, masseuses in massage parlors, prostitutes, general workers in laundries, pirated DVD outlets, illegal gambling dens etc.Some Snakeheads will "help" these illegal immigrants obtain financiang from loan sharks (common called "Ah Long" in Malaysia) to pay the "immigration service fees" to the Snakeheads.In Malaysia, Snakeheads call themselves "foreign worker agents".
In June this year, 57 year old Cheng Chui Ping aka Big Sister Ping was sentenced 35 year in prison in New York for running one of the largest illegal immigrant smuggling syndicates. She has an infamous reputation of smuggling large numbers of illegal immigrants to Chinatowns of Canada and the United States.
Ping was born in 1949 in the poor farming village of Shengmei in China's coastal province of Fujian. Big Sister Ping's parents were peasants and life was hard under the brutal communist regime in China.
Although life was tough on her and luck did not favour her when she was born, she was determined to improve her life. She somehow made her way to Hong Kong and later with the help of Snakeheads, she went to Canada and then in 1981 she immigrated to New York alone leaving her husband and family behind.
Upon arriving in New York, Ping began working in a Chinese restaurant as a general worker, she was chopping vegetables, washing dishes and waiting on tables, then she started selling clothes on Hester street and cheap food along East Broadway. People who know her described her as an extremely hardworking woman. Later, when she had more money, she opened a provision shop (sundry shop) on Hester Street selling variety items and souvenirs. As she established herself financially and she became a naturalised US citizen, her husband and children joined her in New York.
Alhough Big Sister Ping and her family was already quite wealthy by the late eighties, they continued to work each day in their business. They did not drive big cars or wear fancy clothes. She usually took the subway (train) when she travelled. She does this so that she does not attract too much attention - this is important if you're running an illegal business. A famous American gangster also used this strategy, Frank Lucas - a famous American Gangster.
To be continued - How she made it big.
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