Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Bound for the Golden Mountain: The social organization of Chinese alien smuggling

  • Sheldon X. Zhang
  • Mark S. Gaylord


This paper describes and analyzes the structural and operational features of Chinese alien smuggling. Interviews with aliens, smugglers and law enforcement officials in China, Hong Kong and the U.S. reveal this activity to be a complex process comprising a number of distinct operational stages. Our data suggest Chinese alien smuggling groups vary in their level of organization but most are best understood as task forces, or small groups of people assembled to perform a particular piece of work. These task forces are typically linked to international social networks characterized by overlapping, dyadic relationships; a high level of role differentiation; and a limited degree of hierarchy. Such groups are highly responsive to changing socio-legal and market constraints.


Social Network Social Organization Small Group Operational Feature Role Differentiation 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheldon X. Zhang
    • 1
  • Mark S. Gaylord
    • 2
  1. 1.California State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.City University of Hong KongHong Kong

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