SAN FRANCISCO -- The FBI corruption and gunrunning sting that ensnared a state senator, a supposedly reformed mobster and their political operatives also swept up nearly two dozen others whose ties shed unusual light on the expanse of a criminal enterprise emanating far beyond San Francisco's Chinatown.

On top of the headline-grabbing charges against Leland Yee, Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and former city school board President Keith Jackson, the federal investigation reached far and wide, entailing arrests and warrant searches that touched the Peninsula, East Bay and South Bay, and farther still to New York, Boston and Atlanta, according to law-enforcement sources.

Most of the other defendants are alleged to be involved in operations that included cultivating and selling marijuana, making cocaine deals, and selling stolen liquor and contraband cigarettes, which bankrolled the broader conspiracies alleged by federal authorities.

Among them are a dentist who moonlighted as an international arms dealer and a sports agent who helped facilitate a murder-for-hire scheme, according to a federal criminal complaint.

"None of these are street corner crimes. They're behind doors and in secretive meetings, pacts and quid pro quo arrangements," said James Dudley, who retired as a San Francisco deputy police chief after 32 years with the department. "These are really difficult crimes to prove."


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Dudley, now a criminal justice lecturer at San Francisco State University, oversaw patrol of Chinatown both after "Shrimp Boy" got an early release from prison and when Alan Leung, Chow's predecessor as head of the fraternal organization Chee Kung Tong, was mysteriously killed in 2006. Dudley said his officers would routinely work to break up illegal massage parlors, gambling dens and extortion and racketeering schemes.

But even he was jarred by the case that came to light this week.

"When I heard the news, I was surprised at the seriousness of the allegations," he said.

One of the 26 defendants is Marlon Darrell Sullivan, an Oakland-based sports agent who hails from the Western Addition district of San Francisco. He faces counts alleging he trafficked narcotics and weapons and helped facilitate a murder-for-hire scheme. Sullivan gained mild notoriety four years ago when he was suspended by the NFL Players Association after being linked to illicit payments made to a former college football player.

For a short time Sullivan was an adviser Missouri linebacker Michael Sam, who announced in February he was gay and if signed by an NFL team could become the league's first active openly gay player. Sullivan told the Charlotte Observer he advised Sam to showcase his football acumen in front of pro scouts before coming out so that his skills wouldn't overshadowed by the attention surrounding his sexuality.

Also arrested was longtime Daly City dentist Wilson Lim, 60, Yee's friend and the man the senator allegedly said could procure weapons for an undercover agent. Lim has also been charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms.

Lim has been facing recent financial issues. According to a lawsuit, Lim suffered a massive heart attack in March 2011 and was in a coma for a month, preventing him from making mortgage payments on his house. In 2012, he filed for bankruptcy in federal court, which was settled earlier this month.

San Francisco's George Nieh, 44, a felon who reportedly headed a local street gang and was Chow's driver and one of his most trusted associates, is identified in the complaint as a primary connection between Chow and the senator and his entourage. Nieh leads a string of defendants with ties to the Chinatown-based Chee Kung Tong of which Chow was "dragon head," or leader.

Other defendants are from South San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Concord and Cupertino, the home of Serge Gee and Elaine Liang, who are both charged with laundering drug money.

Staff writer Matthias Gafni contributed to this report. Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.