FBI Renews 30-Year Hunt for Suspect Who Killed Gamblers in Boston Chinatown Massacre

Posted on: January 13, 2021, 08:01h. 

Last updated on: January 13, 2021, 12:32h.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $30,000 for information that leads to the arrest of a fugitive suspected of gunning down five card players. The crime happened in an underground gambling den in Boston’s Chinatown in January 1991.

Boston Chinatown Massacre
Hung Tien Pham in 1991 (left) and a rendering of how he might look today. (Image: FBI)

Tuesday marked the 30-year-anniversary of the Boston Chinatown Massacre and the start of a manhunt for one of the alleged perpetrators, Hung Tien Pham.

Pham, a Vietnamese national, is wanted by the FBI for his alleged role in the “ruthless, execution-style” murders that have haunted the Chinatown community in downtown Boston for decades. Six men were shot at close range in the back of the head. Five died.

Gang War?

Pham was identified by the sole survivor. He also named two other men as shooters, Siny Van Tran and Nam The Tham. They are currently serving life sentences for their crimes.

FBI Special Agent Tom Zukauskas said the agency believed Pham to be “the linchpin of the execution of the homicides.” He is also a suspect in another killing that occurred four days earlier.

Pham was a member of the Boston-based Ping On organized crime syndicate, which had links to Hong Kong’s 14K triads. But after three decades, the exact motive for the killings remains unclear.

“We’re not sure if it was a robbery, or if it was just bad blood between rival groups. But they did go in there with a plan, and they did go in there shooting, and five of the six people that were there ended up dying,” said Daniel Duff, a lieutenant detective with the Boston Police Department.

Last Seen in Bangkok

Now, the feds are hoping the reward might jog memories of Pham and his whereabouts. After the killings, he fled to Atlantic City to gamble, and then to New York, where he boarded a flight for Hong Kong. Agents said he was last seen in Bangkok in the mid-to-late 1990s. The reward is being offered internationally.

Bonavolonta said the suspect had a variety of aliases and has held a variety of jobs, including, but not limited to, cook, waiter, bicycle repairman, and floor sander. He was also known to be a big spender who liked flashy cars and cognac.

As alleged, this cold-blooded killer has been on the run for 30 years, and we’re hoping this reward will incentivize anyone with information on Pham’s whereabouts to come forward,” FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta said during a Tuesday press conference. 

Lieutenant Duff also worries the crimes will negatively affect Chinatown.

“When you hear there’s been people murdered in Chinatown, that can send the wrong signal to people that maybe this isn’t a safe area,” Duff said. “I think the community, which is very tight-knit, had to deal with their own fear, but also the fact that people might stop coming into their community because of what happened.”