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The Triads are criminal organizations of Chinese ethnicity in the DC Universe multiverse, appearing in their comics and TV shows.
The Triads were first established in China as secret societies. As time went on, they gradually evolved into criminal organizations. Vigilantes and costumed superheroes have had dealings and clashes with the Triads and their affiliated gangs and Tongs. Like any other organized crime group, the Triads are involved in a wide variety of criminal operations, including narcotics, gambling, contraband smuggling, money laundering, prostitution, human trafficking, manufacturing counterfeit goods, and protection rackets.
The oldest and most powerful Triad is the "K'un-Lun Traid" which with whom Deathstroke clashed in the 1990s. He got involved in a plot involving the niece of his ex-wife, where he thought she was an innocent who was in danger of being killed by the Triad. In the end it turned out that she was aligned with the Triad and killed her husband who was against the Triad and had stolen their shipment of weapons, though she lost her own life. Deathstroke killed the reigning "August Personage of Jade" but was forced to withdraw along with Vigilante, as they would have been facing a 1000 Triad soldiers (including archers). The new August Personage of Jade (the son of the former one), received word that the stolen weapons had been retrieved and that the Triad's planned expansion into North America was on schedule.
Gotham City was plagued by the Triads just as with the other major ethnic crime syndicates. In the early 1990s, they were taking a $1 billion out of Gotham every year. During that period, the Caucasian crime lord King Snake relocated the Triad that he controlled, the Ghost Dragons, from Hong Kong to Gotham. He was able to establish his dominance over the Chinese underworld in Gotham City despite the efforts of Batman and Robin. Eventually he made a mistake, and challenged the powerful "Shan Triad" of the Golden Triangle. Lady Lynx and the rest of the Ghost Dragons were not in agreement with starting a war against the Shan Triad and to save themselves, moved against the King Snake in a coup which led to Lady Lynx becoming the leader of the Ghost Dragons.
- K'un-Lun Triad: Apparently the oldest organized crime group in the DC world, controlling an ancient criminal empire based in China that has lasted for more than 3000 years. Its leader has the title of "August Personage of Jade" which is passed down to each successor. The base of the Triad is deep in China in the "K'un-Lun" mountains, a partially subterranean mountain stronghold holding a 1000 Triad soldiers.
- Shan Triad: controls the Golden Triangle's drug trade and used to be more like a business association between several clans, until General Tsu had them all eliminated and now controls all of the Triad and therefore monopolized the opium business in the Golden Triangle.
- Neon Dragon Triad: Based in Gotham City and is one of several local syndicates which have established a business relationship with El Penitente drug cartel of Mexico.
- Lucky Hand Triad: Based in Gotham City and allied itself with Ra's al Ghul during a great mob war and afterwards participated in Gotham's biggest gang war ever.
- Ghost Dragons: Based in Hong Kong with a branch in Thailand. Later expanded to Gotham which became it's new base of operations.
- China White Triad
- White Lotus
Triads vary greatly in how organized they are. Some Triads are loosely organized, more like coalitions of gangs. Other Triads have a structured hierarchy, with specified ranks and perhaps even a council or a board of directors. Numerical codes that are based on Chinese numerology are assigned to members to identify what rank they have.
Members of a Triad are taught the centuries-old hand signals of the Triad and undergo initiation ritual based on Daoist and Buddhist traditions / beliefs which ends with a loyalty oath. Communication among Triad members may include the use of a numbered code. The Dragonheads (Triad leaders), usually lead a public life as a businessman running some type of small business, like a small restaurant. The idea is to keep a low profile, so though the Dragonhead may be one of the most powerful men in the city or perhaps even the country, most will keep that facade of humility.
- At the top of the Triad hierarchy is the Shan Chu (Lodge Master / Dragonhead - 489). He or she has very little contact, if any with the rank and file members of the Triad. Dragonheads are quasi-legitimate businessmen.
- In the level below, are the "483"s. The top ranked 483 is the Fu Shan Chu (Deputy Lodge Master, the top ranked 483) who manages the day-to-day operations of the Triad. Below him are two 483s of equal rank; the Heung Chu (Incense Master) who is in charge of enforcing the traditions of the Triad, and the Sin Fung (Guardian) who is in charge of recruiting. Last is the Sheung Fa (Double Flower), whom are the ones who establish new branches of the Triad.
- Below the 483's are the Triad's officers. The military commander in charge of the gangs is the Hung Kwan (Red Pole, 426). In charge of accounting is the Pak Tsz Sin (White Paper Fan, 415). The public face of the Triad who collects and pays the bribes and graft from the businesses and gangs is the Cho Hai (Grass Sandal, 425).
- Last of all are the rank-n-file members, all of whom are Sze Kau (49). They are the soldiers of the Triad who provide security, act as muscle, run a business, supervise a safehouse, or work as hitmen for the Triad.