Tiny Rascal Gang

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Tiny Rascal Gang
Founding locationLong Beach, California
Years active1980s-present
TerritoryUnited States,[1]
EthnicityPredominantly Cambodian but also Multiethnic[2]
Membership (est.)10,000
Criminal activitiesExtortion, racketeering, drug trafficking, arson, assault, murder, robbery, theft, fraud, and illegal gambling,
AlliesWah Ching,[3] Ghost Shadows, Menace of Destruction
RivalsBarrio Pobre, Asian Boyz,[4] Bloods,[5] Crips,[6] Sureños,[7][8] Latin Kings,[9] East Side Longos[10]

The Tiny Rascal Gang, also known as TRG or Rascals for short, is an ethnically Cambodian gang based in California. They were founded in Long Beach, California in the 1980s as part of their cause to protect themselves from the larger, more numerous American gangs in their neighborhoods. Initially, a mere cause which connected numerous youth crews and gangs across Long Beach, Santa Ana and shortly after nearby cities, they are now an established network and identity of individual "sets" or local gangs, its members identify gray as their gang's color of distinction, a custom and practice that has waned somewhat in accordance to the police crackdowns specifically targeting gang members, but members have been seen to dress in all black with a gray rag representing their set. Historically, members have been primarily of Cambodian ethnic origin.

The Tiny Rascals are considered to be the largest ethnically focused Asian-American criminal organisation in the United States.[11] Although Cambodians comprise the majority of their members and are the foundation of the gang itself, most Cambodian-Americans are known to be multi-ethnic, or of mixed heritage, a large portion of whom are of mixed Chinese, Vietnamese, Tai or Austronesian ancestry. Whilst in some gang sets a large portion of its membership may identify with other Asian ancestry.[12]


The United States began admitting its first Cambodian refugees in 1979, and until 1991, nearly 158,000 Cambodians were admitted; most of whom were resettled in the states of California, Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York; as with many refugee groups, lack of knowledge concerning the culture and society of the host nation in addition to their limited command of the English language resulted in a socio-cultural barrier. Upon suffering from various issues individually or in smaller scale, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, their socio-economic disadvantage and environmental setbacks contributed to their adversity in North America. Cambodian-American communities were largely underprivileged and deeply affected by poverty, among other things.

In the mid-1980s, a fight occurred between a Latino student and a Cambodian student in Long Beach, an event which led to the formation of the Tiny Rascals;[13] as a means of protection, other Cambodian youths began to form street gangs which later laid the foundation of TRG. While conforming to their various cultural influences and Western society, many Cambodian youths began to understand their positions in society, most of whom had instead recognized their disadvantage, resulting in their gang epidemic in the 1990s. Original gang hand-signs, graffiti, fashion, and other practices were originated and constantly changing in the 1980s and 90s. Shortly after their collectivization, TRG began committing several crimes which included extortion, murder, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, home invasion, drugs and weapons trafficking;[14] some of the Tiny Rascal members were originally members of the Asian Boyz, a rival gang, and transferred gangs due to friction between other fellow Tiny Rascal members.

Throughout the early 90s, The Tiny Rascals had a violent rivalry with the Long Beach-based East Side Longos MUIE who were predominantly Hispanic.[15]

Two more recent rivalries which have been relevant over the past decade are with Insane Boyz and Rascals in Seattle,[16][17][18] and Latin Kings in Holland, Michigan.[9][10]


Originally a Cambodian street gang, members of other ethnic and cultural groups are known to have been recruited.[15] There are an estimated 10,000 members nationwide. In the 1990s, females were allowed to represent the gang and an all-female branch was formed as "LRG (Lady Rascal Gang)".[citation needed] This faction or identity was later disbanded.

As with many other gangs, potential members must first be initiated in a "jump in" where they would have to fight other members of the gang or endure a beating for a specific amount of time.[14] Newer recruits are allegedly required to commit a notable crime as a means to earn respect, whether it be murder, home invasion, drive-by shootings on rival gangs or enemies, or robbery. Respect and credibility within the gang revolved around a number of crimes individuals would commit either on behalf of or in favor of the gang, their gang colors are grey and black. In contrast to their rivals, the Asian Boyz, their gangs are more ethnically exclusive and distinct, as most of their Cambodian members are known to be Khmer.


The Tiny Rascals are involved in a wide range of criminal activities which include extortion, robbery, burglary, auto theft, gang protection, and murder, which are some of the more publicized criminal activities. While young members of the gang are mostly involved in street crimes, some members have progressed towards serious organized criminal activities larger in scale; the older sets maintain a working relationship with similar sets of a fellow Southeast Asian gang called Asian Boyz. They have formed alliances with Chinese Triad organizations such as the New York City-based Ghost Shadows.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several Rascals violently retaliated to the ongoing harassment of East Side Longos within California, especially Long Beach and Seattle; this sparked a deadly war of which resulted in over a hundred casualties suffered among both gangs.

During 1994, seven TRG members broke into a house in Tustin resulting in the victim being killed, while her baby was home. In 2016 some Tiny Rascal members also murdered a member of a graffiti crew in Tustin.[19]

In August 1995, five TRG members aging between 16 and 23 invaded the house of a family in San Bernardino and shot five of them to death in a robbery; the victims were ages 10 to 44. The five perpetrators were sentenced to life imprisonment.[20]

In summer 1994, five TRG members in Virginia were found guilty of assaulting and stabbing a youth.[21] In April 1996, a TRG member fatally shot a rival gang member between the eyes and left him for dead in a South Arlington apartment complex parking lot Virginia. According to prosecutor Theo Stamos, "This was a show of muscle, of bravado; the defendant was playing to his gallery."[22] In February 1998, three TRG members conducted a drive-by shooting on school grounds in Virginia, fatally shooting one victim in the head and injuring another. "What makes it so unique is the brazenness of it -- at noon, going onto school property," Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said after the hearing, during which there was no testimony. "Just the whole notion of retaliation."[23] In February 2009, six members of TRG in Virginia shot up a rival gang member's house, they all faced attempted murder charges, in addition to other felonies associated with shooting up a dwelling. Key members of the Tiny Rascals Gang pleaded guilty to multiple gang participation and recruitment charges as well as robbery and firearms violations.[24] Sentencing in all aforementioned cases ranged from 5 to 25 years incarceration, deportation, and life imprisonment; the Tiny Rascal Gang in Virginia have been connected to many crimes including property crimes, extortion, robberies, drug distribution, stabbings, assaults, shootings, and murder. The Virginia/Washington area is home to approximately 5,000 to 8,000 Cambodians, many of whom live in Richmond, Falls Church, Arlington, Fairfax, and Silver Spring.[21] Virginia now has what it says are the toughest gang laws in the nation, partly because of the violent actions of gangs such as the TRG.[25]

The gang also has a presence among the Cambodian-American community in Lowell, Massachusetts. According to police there, several hundred TRG members lived in the Lowell area in 2008, and the gang was connected to a dozen homicides and 20 assaults in Lowell within 1998 and 2008.[26]

Media depiction[edit]

Two documentaries, Rascal Love and Cambodian Son, have been about Tiny Rascal members. Gangland has also dedicated an episode to Tiny Rascal Gang sets in Fresno.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2011 National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends". 2011. Archived from the original on 2016-06-19.
  2. ^ "Asian Gang Shootings On Upswing In City, Police Say One Youth, Thai Ho, 17, Got Caught In The Middle. The Shooter Thought He Was A Rival, Police Said. - Philly.com". articles.philly.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  3. ^ Los Angeles Gangs and Hate Crimes Archived 2017-07-30 at the Wayback Machine, Police Law Enforcement Magazine February 29, 2008
  4. ^ Fresno man resentenced to 80 years to life in prison for killing pregnant woman in 2006 Archived 2017-07-30 at the Wayback Machine, Fresno Bee July 21, 2016.
  5. ^ Prosecutors say man involved in South Seattle gang war shootings Archived 2014-04-09 at the Wayback Machine, KIRO-TV, April 7, 2014.
  6. ^ Not on our turf California gangs create havoc here, "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel", July 28, 1994.
  7. ^ Hay, Jeremy (May 22, 2005). "A HARDER EDGE TO GANG VIOLENCE" (PDF). Press Democrat. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 15, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
  8. ^ Moxley, R. Scott. We Don't Care Gang Killer Begs Judges To Care About His Trial Complaint Archived 2014-04-19 at the Wayback Machine, OC Weekly, July 2013.
  9. ^ a b Agar, John documents give inside look at Holland Latin Kings, drugs, violence[permanent dead link], MLive, February 17, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Wildfong, Curtis "Witnesses describe scene of February gang-related shooting in Holland Township" Archived 2017-08-04 at the Wayback Machine, Holland Sentinel, February 29, 2016.
  11. ^ Valdez, Investigator Al. "The Tiny Rascal Gang: Big Trouble". www.policemag.com. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  12. ^ Rizzo, Russ. Police arrest 3 in gang-style city shootings, News & Record, 2004,
  13. ^ Moore, Derek J. Ruthless Asian gangs blaze trail of violence Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine, Press Democrat, March 15, 2008.
  14. ^ a b "Organized Crime in California : 2010 Annual Report to Legislature" (PDF). Cag.ca.gov. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  15. ^ a b "Police Magazine". Policemag.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  16. ^ Spangenthal-Lee, Jonah The Gang Round-Up Round-Up Archived 2016-03-14 at the Wayback Machine SPD Plotter, August 17, 2012.
  17. ^ Pulkkinen, Levi Target in two gang shootings now accused in third Archived 2016-03-14 at the Wayback Machine, SeattlePI, November 19, 2012.
  18. ^ Kiro 7 Prosecutors say man involved in South Seattle gang war shootings Archived 2016-03-14 at the Wayback Machine, Kiro 7, August 7, 2014.
  19. ^ Vu, Belinda. Cambodian gang’s members arrested in teen’s killing Archived 2017-08-27 at the Wayback Machine, The Orange County Register, January 13, 2010
  20. ^ PERRY, TONY (December 5, 1996). "Gang Member Pleads Guilty to 5 Murders". Retrieved January 7, 2019 – via LA Times.
  21. ^ a b https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1995/02/19/for-area-cambodians-a-conflict-between-young-and-old/0c45024b-33ea-43b8-a502-d63135eeaa4c/
  22. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1996/12/12/guilty-verdict-in-arlington-slaying/cd6fff5b-06c8-4ce8-ace3-e4c3076f9e0e/
  23. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1998/06/18/guilty-plea-in-high-school-slaying/2259ed3f-ef5d-4e2f-9626-56118673d958/
  24. ^ https://www.richmond.com/news/leaders-of-henrico-based-gang-plead-guilty/article_685d14a3-1a5c-5955-8f3d-64db1b752292.html
  25. ^ https://pilotonline.com/news/local/crime/article_a59f4604-5289-50e0-990a-e7d1593dd631.html
  26. ^ Hanna, Maddie. 10 arrested during series of Lowell gang raids Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine, Boston.com, July 20, 2008.

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