Ngo Van Binh was a captain with the Saigon Police Department's vice unit. He was one of the three captains who made up a triad known as the Devil's Three, along with Nguyen Tran and Van Nguyen. Binh and the members of the Devil's Three received payoffs from vice and drug operators in Saigon amounting to tens of millions of dollars each. They also engaged in smuggling brown heroin to the U.S., often using American military personnel to carry the drugs in diplomatic pouches.
Binh escaped Vietnam during the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. He was accompanied to the U.S. by Billy Meadows. His information was entered into the INS database in Southern California on 4 May 1975, and his documentation was issued on 14 May 1975. Hector Villabona of the INS told Harry Bosch this this chain of events was much too quick, indicating that Binh had expedited processing. Binh's INS case number carried a GL designation, meaning that his file was kept in Washington, D.C. When Villabona tried to obtain the file, he was told it is classified.
Bob Ernst tells Bosch and Wish that Binh and Tran converted their "dirty" money into diamonds for easier transport to the U.S. He estimates that Binh and Tran each brought $15 million to $18 million in diamonds with them.
He eventually opened a business on Vermont Avenue called Ben's Electronics to provide a respectable. low-profile identity and as a way to launder his money. The business was in a 1930's unreinforced concrete structure that had been an auto showroom. The electronics business was successful and provided a good cover for Binh.
In 1991, Binh rented a safety-deposit box at the WestLand National Bank in Los Angeles in which he stored his diamonds. When the bank was robbed during Labor Day weekend of that year, Binh reported nothing stolen from his box. Binh is one of four people of Viet Namese heritage that reported no loss from their safety-deposit boxes. This fact, along with the information provided by Villabona and Ernst, leads Bosch to suspect that Binh's box was the actual target of the Westland Bank burglary. When Bosch and Wish question Binh at his business, Bosch is able to plant a bug in Binh's phone, enabling them to locate Tran. Binh's diamonds were subsequently recovered from a public storage locker in Huntington Beach that had been rented by John Rourke.
- The Black Echo (mentioned)