The Weapons in the Leland Yee Scandal

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Not many FBI documents read like crime thrillers, but the FBI’s case against California State Senator Leland Yee and the Chee Kung Tong does:

The FBI accuses 54-year-old Kwok Sheung Chow of leading the Chee Kung Tong (CKT) criminal group. (The bureau tapped the ceremony swearing him in as the Dragonhead of the group.) The criminal complaint paints him as a leader who wants his organization to be seen as legit, but who keeps a direct hand in some of the felonious operations that ensnared other CKT-affiliated players, including State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), a gun control advocate caught on FBI recordings brokering arms deals and accepting money to pass legislation. Chow is the person who introduced Keith Jackson, the senator’s political operative, to the undercover FBI agents.

In July 2010, when the investigation was new, UCE 4599 had dinner with Chow, who used the venue to discuss his days as a street gangster. “Chow described how he like to carry two 9mm and a .45 caliber [pistols],” the affidavit reads. “Chow described that a .22 caliber is an assassin’s gun, but he liked carrying something that had real power and would stop someone if you had to use it on the street.”

In March 2012, the undercover agent was “inducted” into the Chee Kung Tong as a “consultant.” After that, the investigation into California crime and corruption really took off.

On March 11, 2014, Yee met with political consultant Keith Jackson (more on him soon) and Wilson Lim, who claimed to have a relative in the Philippines military who could steal weapons and was supposedly selling the military gear to Islamic rebels in Mindanao. An FBI undercover employee (UCE 4599) also in attendance asked Lim what kinds of weapons he could get. “Lim told UCE 4599 the Israeli-made Tavor assault rifle was very common in the Philippines,” the affidavit says. “Lim described the Tavor as being the equivalent of the M16 assault rifle.”


The idea at this meeting was to buy rifles from the Philippines and ship them to the United States through New Jersey (where the undercover agent claimed to have Mafia connections at the Port of Newark) before sending them to final customers in North Africa. “Senator Yee told UCE 4599 there are approximately 100 rifles currently available,” the court document says, and that Yee said “he thought Africa was largely an untapped market for trade” of weapons. The profits would be broken into smaller pieces and funneled into his election campaign. If he had lost that election, he would “move into the private sector and exploit all the relationships he had in Asia for various kinds of activities,” according to the criminal complaint.


Of all the strange people in the FBI document, the Jackson family may be the strangest. Keith Jackson operates a political consultancy that raised campaign funds for Yee. He also is implicated in scores of money laundering deals, high-volume drug transactions, bribes, cigarette and booze smuggling, international arms deals, and local weapons sales. Plus, he has been linked to murder-for-hire schemes; he told undercover agents that he and his son, accused drug smuggler Brandon, could hire thugs to kill people.

These are political consultants with access to a slew of firearms. In one transaction alone, on June 24, 2013, the father-and-son team sold UCE 4599 five weapons for $5300. One of them was a Cobray Machine Pistol, a compact fully automatic 9mm weapon with a 50-round magazine. The other guns: a Mossberg shotgun, a Smith & Wesson Model 59 handgun, A Colt MKIV 80 handgun, a .22 Ruger carbine, and a 7.62mm Clayco Sports Rifle. Also, intriguingly, they sold the undercover agent two ballistic vests. When UCE 4599 checked, he found the protective vest was stolen from the FBI.

Jackson Consultancy appears to be always campaigning for the candidate’s war chest. During the June 24 weapons buy, “Keith Jackson told UCE 4599 that he was hoping UCE 4599 could raise more money for Senator Yee.”


  1. Barnabas says:

    I can’t believe that this gun running scam was even worth the effort. What’s the markup on 100 rifles minus shipping from the Philippines to Jersey to North Africa? I would think that you could clear much more from the kickbacks from a single California real estate development. Then again, I guess this was the FBI’s idea, not Chow’s. They probably have him on tape saying, “Hey, why not just buy AKs locally for a fraction of the price?”

Leave a Reply