ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Han Sa Yu, 44, a resident of Maryland who is originally from South Korea, was sentenced today to 210 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for extorting Korean businesses operating in Annandale, Va. Yu also agreed to pay more than $98,000 in restitution to the victims of his extortion. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. and assisted by the Fairfax County Police Department.
Yu pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion on Nov. 9, 2012, and was sentenced today. Yu founded the Korean Night Breeders (KNB) to carry out extortions of various businesses in Annandale. The KNB targeted businesses owned by persons of Korean descent and frequently sought out businesses that employed illegal aliens.
"HSI (Washington, D.C.) is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to combat violent gangs who prey upon those in our communities," said Special Agent In Charge John P. Torres. "Today's sentencing of Yu sends a message that extortion, especially under the threat of violence, will not be tolerated. HSI (Washington, D.C.) will continue to identify, investigate and dismantle gangs who are a threat to public safety."
The KNB also sought out Korean taxi drivers, karaoke bars, restaurants and billiard halls to extort cash. Many business owners were assaulted and others threatened in an effort to instill fear in their victims.
The gang members frequently would dress in black suits, which became their recognized uniform. They would surround an extortion victim to further instill fear and implicitly threaten victims. From one victim alone KNB extorted more than $30,000. Various restaurants in Annandale either paid extortion or provided free food and drink to the gang.
Yu, also known as "Thunder" and "Bungay," modeled the gang after Asian organized crime syndicates. He sometimes would hold weekly meetings where the gang would discuss potential victims, and Yu would teach fighting techniques and his extortion protocol. The size of the gang varied over time, but at times had 15 or more members. Yu and his gang used the extortion proceeds to purchase marijuana and cocaine, among other things.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Frank and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc J. Birnbaum prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
This investigation was part of HSI's Operation Community Shield initiative. Operation Community Shield partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to identify violent street gangs and develop intelligence on gang members and associates, gang criminal activities and international movements to arrest, prosecute, imprison and, or deport transnational gang members. HSI's National Gang Unit's goal is to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005, HSI special agents working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 29,366 street gang members and associates linked to more than 2,300 different gangs. At least 40 percent of those arrested had a violent criminal history. More than 374 of those arrested were gang leaders. Through this initiative nationally, HSI has seized 4,137 firearms.