The white leader of an Asian organized crime group based in Boston’s Chinatown was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Thursday on drug trafficking and money laundering charges, Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced.
John Willis, 42, of Dorchester, Mass., pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and money laundering conspiracy charges, Ortiz said. Willis was known by his Chinese nickname, “Bac Guai John,” which translates to “White Devil John.”
Willis was a leader in the Ping On gang, a Chinese criminal organization whose reach spanned from Boston’s Chinatown to Florida, New York, Rhode Island and South Carolina, Ortiz said. Ping On members trafficked thousands of oxycodone pills worth approximately $4 million.
Ortiz said the 20-year prison sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro was warranted. Willis and 12 others were charged in 2011 with a series of crimes based on an FBI investigation into drug trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion and prostitution centered in Boston’s Chinatown.
“Twenty years in federal prison is well-deserved for Mr. Willis, a career criminal and the mastermind behind this organization,” she said in a statement announcing the sentencing. “Not only did this investigation expose a world of illegal gambling, prostitution and extortion, but it also revealed a significant oxycodone distribution operation. This case significantly disrupted the flow of this highly-addictive, dangerous heroin substitute which has been responsible for numerous deaths in Massachusetts.”
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As part of the FBI investigation, five defendants’ cell phones were tapped and $480,000 in cash was seized along with a 38-foot speedboat, a number of luxury vehicles, 13 guns and approximately $12,000 in oxycodone pills.
“Mr. Willis and his associates are an example of the opportunistic nature of organized crime groups whose members share a common bond of victimizing their communities through drug dealing, illegal gambling, extortion and exploitation of women in their quest for illegal profits,” said Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division. “The methodical nature and duration of this investigation reflects the focus of the Boston Organized Crime Task Force, which is composed of the Massachusetts State Police, Medford, Boston and Quincy Police Departments, Massachusetts Department of Corrections and IRS-CID, to secure justice for the victims and to make the community safer.”