5T (gang)

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FoundedMid 1980s
Founded byFounded by Hoa Hi Tran in Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam; he was also active in the United States. Tri Minh Tran rose to be the leader.
Founding locationCabramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Years active1985–99
Criminal activitiesDrug dealing, arms dealing, extortion, money laundering, home invasion, armed robbery
AlliesVarious street gangs
RivalsVarious Asian street gangs

5T was a Vietnamese crime gang active in the Cabramatta and Bankstown area of Sydney, Australia, with sub-groups and ex-members living interstate, in the final two decades of the 20th century.

There main local rivals were 1N & 7A, & the 3 were in an almost never ending battle for territory or (as they called it) market share

The rise of 5T[edit]

The 5T gang was started by Cabramatta youths who came to Australia with their parents after the fall of the Republic of Vietnam; the formation of the 5Ts began in the mid-1980s. The term 5T, stands for five Vietnamese words starting with T; 'Tình', 'Tiền', 'Tù', 'Tội' and 'Tự', translating to 'Love, Money, Prison, Punishment, Suicide'. However, 5T also means 'tuổi trẻ thiếu tình thương' which roughly translates to 'childhood without love.'[1] Gang members apparently were tattooed with the emblem consisting of a straight horizontal line and 5 joined vertical lines with members' first and family names starting with the letter T being the horizontal line on top of the name. Tri Minh Tran rose to leadership of the 5T gang by the age of 14 in 1989. Born in Vietnam in 1975, Tran arrived in Australia at the age of 7 as a refugee. By the age of 11, he had spent six months in a children's institution for carrying a sawn-off shotgun and in the next couple of years was suspected of the murder of two rival gang members.[2]

The 5T gang dominated over the Cabramatta heroin trade, predominately at a street level.[3] In January 1988, the Sydney Morning Herald warned: "Criminal gangs in the Vietnamese community are increasingly heavily armed, are moving into drugs and gambling, establishing links with Australian crime figures, and becoming involved in standover rackets in their own community". John Newman first warned of the Vietnamese gangs including the 5T in 1989 in NSW State Parliament saying: "The Asian gangs involved don't fear our laws, but there's one thing they do fear and that's possible deportation back to the jungles of Vietnam, because that's where, frankly, they belong." Newman campaigned strongly against the crime gangs in Vietnam and would receive regular death threats before his murder.[4]


The murder of Tran in 1995 sparked a power struggle within the organization;[5] this was ultimately furthered with the death of the 5T successor. This led to an escalation of violence in 1999, as rival mobs, the 'Four Aces' and 'Madonna's boys', which were break-away groups of the 5T, challenged the 5T leading to an increase in the murder rate in Cabramatta; this gang warfare eventually led to the NSW Parliament establishing a Parliamentary Inquiry. During this inquiry in 2001, Tim Priest, a police officer based at Cabramatta warned of an upsurge of gang violence in Southwestern Sydney including Vietnamese, Chinese and Middle Eastern gangs, he was criticised for his comments by then NSW Education Minister John Aquilina and Reba Meagher, Newman's successor as Member for Cabramatta, who labelled him a "disgruntled detective" before being forced to apologise.

The successors of the 5T included the Four Aces, Red Dragon[6] and Madonna's Boys (Madonna) [Ro Van Le]; the leader and namesake of the gang, however, was subsequently murdered outside a Western Sydney pub in 1999 shortly after being released from prison, subsequently leading to the eventual demise of the 5T Gang.[7]


  1. ^ Thomas, Stacy (23 February 2017). "Johnny Nguyen's taste for drug turned him into Vietnamese gang 5T's ice tester boy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  2. ^ Morton, James; Lobez, Susanna (27 November 2014). Gangland Australia: Colonial Criminals to the Carlton Crew. Melbourne Univ. Publishing. ISBN 0522859712. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Cabramatta". ABC. 8 April 1997. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  4. ^ Grimm, Nick (29 June 2001). "Ngo found guilty of Newman assassination". ABC. Archived from the original on 31 July 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  5. ^ Cawthorne, Nigel (5 July 2013). The History of Australian True Crime. Arcturus Publishing. ISBN 1782127046. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ Kidman, John (24 March 2002). "Crackdown on the high school gangs". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  7. ^ Kennedy, Les (17 May 2002). "5T gang member shot dead while on parole". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.