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FBI sting reveals underworld, seamy history of San Francisco's storied Chinatown

  • APTOPIX FBI Raid-San Francisco.JPEG

    California Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, right, leaves the San Francisco Federal Building, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in San Francisco. The FBI has filed a 137-page affidavit outlining a detailed corruption case against Yee, who is accused of asking for campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover agent to an arms trafficker. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (The Associated Press)

  • FBI Raid San Francisco.JPEG

    An FBI agent carries away bags of evidence following a search of a Chinatown fraternal organization Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in San Francisco. A California state senator was arrested Wednesday during a series of raids by the FBI in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities said. An FBI spokesman confirmed the arrest of State Sen. Leland Yee, but declined to discuss the charges, citing an ongoing investigation. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) (The Associated Press)

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    Agents from the FBI and the IRS carry boxes from a home in San Mateo, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. FBI Agent Greg Wuthrich said the raid was part of an investigation involving the arrest of State Sen. Leland Yee early Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/San Jose Mercury News, John Green) MAGS OUT; NO SALES (The Associated Press)

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    FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2011, file photo, State Sen. Leland Yee poses beside a bowl of shark fin soup during a news conference to oppose a bill to ban the sale of shark fin soup in San Francisco's Chinatown. Yee was arrested Wednesday March 26, 2014, during a series of raids in the San Francisco Bay Area. Yee declined to discuss the charges, citing an ongoing investigation. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File) (The Associated Press)

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    Agents from the FBI and the IRS carry boxes from a home in San Mateo, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. FBI Agent Greg Wuthrich said the raid was part of an investigation involving the arrest of State Sen. Leland Yee early Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/San Jose Mercury News, John Green) MAGS OUT; NO SALES (The Associated Press)

Beneath the strings of red paper lanterns and narrow alleyways of the nation's oldest Chinatown lies an underworld, a place with a history of opium dens, gambling houses and gangland murders.

Federal investigators say it's also where Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow operated a criminal empire while projecting a public image of community servant.

The allegations against Chow are part of an FBI sting that names 25 other defendants, including state Sen. Leland Yee.

Investigators say Chow is the leader of a fraternal organization that doubles as one of the most powerful Asian gangs in North America. Chow's gang is said to have lured Yee through money and campaign contributions in exchange for providing official favors.

Yee announced Thursday he was stepping down from the race for California secretary of state.

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