Los Angeles News
LOS ANGELES—On Thursday, March 14 the LAPD’s Gang Enforcement Detail Division handed out 21 search warrants and arrested 25 Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang members in connection to extorting money from street vendors in the southeast portion of Hollywood. The LAPD’s Hollywood division along with several members of the Hollywood community helped in the case that has been ongoing for that past six years.
In a press conference on Monday, March 18 Chief of Police, Charlie Beck, stated that MS-13 gang members were collecting “rent or taxes” from street vendors who are “trying to make a living to provide for their family” and threatening those who refused to pay them off.
Some vendors paid gang members upwards of $100 a week to allow them to continue with their business. According to authorities, extortion is the “bread and “butter” of MS-13's operation and were usually targeted towards the most vulnerable members of the community.
Officers in the LAPD’s Hollywood division were able to connect with an unidentified MS-13 gang member who was able to give them significant information regarding those involved.
The LAPD highlighted the importance of public cooperation in bringing the case to this point, “real heroes are the victim and the community members that entrusted us, so that the community could have some peace,” said Beck. He also stated that community members are still scared for their lives, and information regarding the evidence in the case must remain disclosed at this time.
Many departments, including the LAPD Metropolitan Division and the Department of Child and Family Services (DCF), were called into aid the case as children of the suspects were taken into protective custody. According to Emilio Mendoza of DCF, the eight children that were taken into custody ranged between the ages of 0 to 12 years old.
While no weapons or narcotics were found in the homes that the children were taken from, Mendoza stated that they were found in “compromising living condition.” A five-year-old child of one of the suspects had to be taken to the hospital for conditions resulting from negligence.
Currently, all of the children are in protective custody and are doing well.
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