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Nearly 100 charged, dozens arrested in operation targeting Armenian organized crime [Updated]

Dozens of people were arrested Wednesday morning in a massive operation by federal and local law enforcement authorities targeting Armenian organized crime, particularly members of the powerful street gang Armenian Power.

Operation Power Outage involved nearly 1,000 officers and concentrated primarily on suspects who reside in heavily Armenian neighborhoods in Glendale and East Hollywood, but authorities said arrests and indictments also were made in other parts of the country.

Citing the ongoing operation, officials did not immediately release specifics but said nearly 100 individuals had been charged in federal and state court in indictments alleging racketeering, extortion, kidnapping, drug-related offenses and white-collar fraud.

Participating law enforcement agencies included the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Secret Service, Immigration Customs Enforcement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles police departments. [Updated at 10:14 a.m.: The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General also participated.]

The bulk of the arrests and search warrants had been served without any major incidents. But officials stressed they continued to search for some of the suspects.

Armenian Power -- AP for short -- is a small but virulent gang that took root among Armenian immigrants who arrived in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early 1990s, authorities said. They are concentrated in Glendale and East Hollywood.

Law enforcement officials described Armenian Power as having an "extensive portfolio" that combined ruthlessness with opportunism, focusing on white-collar crime that included identity theft crimes such as credit-card skimming. 


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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: An Armenian Power member shows tatoos on his back in a 1997 photo. Credit: Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (62)

Hmmm... Deporting armenians? Armenian-American diaspora has investment wealth of quarter trillion dollars. They make a major part of US economy, feeding "native" americans....

It's just like 'The Shield'! I love it :)

Compared to jewish, italian, russian, turkish criminal groups in US, AP was just a small fish. Interesting though, when something about armenians come up, it's all over the news. I remember couple month ago an armenian gang was caught steeling 40 mil. dollars from Healthcare services or something. Every news channel came up with that, while nothing was reported on news about an american clinic FBI busted for steeling about 200 mill. It's just pathetic...

Dan, well said.

Regardless, crimes are always going to be committed. Now, would you prefer rape/robbery/grand theft/assault or would you prefer white collar crimes in the form of credit fraud/medical fraud/identity fraud?

Not that it's justified or OK for what they are doing or have done, but come on, wouldn't you rather live in a city with white collar crimes, as opposed to violent crimes?

With white collar crimes all over the city, it won't scare women to walk outside late at night, or little kids riding a bicycle in the neighborhood.

Before you thank God, think twice.

You guys talk about welfare scams but your forget about all these banks that scam the goverment for our tax dollars, i dont see anyone going after them. Plus the reason glendale and burbank are one of the cleanest and wealthiest and safest cities is because of all the hard working armenians and their tax dollars. OUt of 10 business' 8 belong to armenians, which gives jobs to armenians as well as other races. You guys only see the bad when you hear armenians.

My neighbor's door got busted down this morning - I've never been happier to see my tax dollars at work. Thank you FBI and ICE.

I to am of Armenian decent. But I got to say how naive people can be at times specially here in the United States. Here is LaTimes printing an article of a gang that really has not even been around since oh the early 90s, and try to defuse all the other corrupt ideologies and actions that have overtaken here in the last 10 years by corporations, big business, as well our government itself. I to am ashamed of any story that negatively impacts the Armenian community. But this has no barring of how big business is robbing the American people everyday in so called lawful loophole ways.

I am an Armenian, born and raised in Los Angeles. It pains me to hear how stupid and ignorant people can be. It is humiliating, to say the least. However, it would be wise not to get carried away and stereotype all Armenians as criminals and thieves who cheat people and the system. This happens in every culture, race, ethnicity, etc. There are plenty of hard-working and honest Armenians in this country and throughout the world. Please keep that in mind before you profile just anybody.

Armenian Power only accounts for a small percentage of all the gang members in L.A... Armenian Power may commit crimes but is more high class and does much less collateral damage when compared to other large and less civilized gangs. Most Armenian people are hard working successful above-average income households, every race has its flaws. L.A would not be L.A without Armenians.

As an Armenian-American living in Glendale, and having heard rumors or stories of AP muscle and influence in the area, it's not surprising to see this story unfold. Yes, there are crooks amongst the Armenian population, just as there is with any other race. I'm sure a lot of people have seen or even know of a crook who skims the public, businesses, and our economy all in an effort to drive a high-class luxury car or to satisfy other materialistic interests.

HOWEVER, these crimes should not be affiliated with the Armenian population in Glendale or the surrounding areas as a whole. As everyone reading this is probably aware, the largest population outside of Armenia is here in the Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Hollywood, and the surrounding cities. Therefore, it is not surprising to hear about a criminal organization amongst a group or collection of people. Crime is prevalent in any major city or metropolitan area.

This story reminds us of the Italians, Mexicans, or any other immigrant class that have migrated to the US. Gangs inevitably unfold for purposes of protection, opportunity, and other interests. This is a common phase of events.

I'm happy to hear our tax dollars are being put to use and these criminals that give us Armenians a bad reputation are being put behind bars. The less crime the better for us civilized people that work 5-7 days a week and pay tens of thousands of dollars in tax every year.

Dan, I don't think it is a matter of feeling safer. BIG difference between stupid kids that want to be in a gang and the sophistication of these white collar crimes that cost citizens and businesses MILLIONS of dollars!! These are definitely THUGS of a different breed (not nationality). They are thieves!!! And we aren't talking grandma's jewels..we are talking people's livelyhoods. So yes, I am definitely thrilled by the news!!

Break out the champaign! We're already out there dancing in the streets. The party will go on all week and all of Los Angeles' law-abiding citizens are welcome. I've said it before and I'll say it again, for someone who has lived in Glendale before and has to put up with their arrogance in speeding and reckless driving with their Mercedes, BMW's and expensive custom SUV's, I for one am so grateful the federal law enforcement agencies are finally doing something without the idle threat of being called racists over targeting the Armenian community.

I'm fed up with the arrogant, rude behavior, of these Armenians who came here to the US under the refugee status and have nothing but criminal intent on their minds. It's in their culture to steal from the federal government. From welfare, to housing loans, to businesses, (mainly mechanics and taxi services) to fraudulent student loans, even to handicapped placards, it doesn't matter which angle of handout is available, it's in their blood. Finally, justice is about to be served and the citizens of Glendale and Est Hollywood can rest comfortably knowing that deportation hearings will be filed.

To the idiots who are soo relieved that their neighborhood is now safe... time to go back to your "AMERICAN DREAMS" .... incase you dont realize this, the PROBLEM IS NOT SOLVED... This is what happens when the US government invades other countries and tries to solve problems instead of solvings its own... people will do anything for money because they have no jobs and a table full of bills that need to be paid...

Remember, these criminals learned everything here, from other non-Armenian criminals.

Full Disclosure: I'm Armenian (born there) and raised here. Went to top Public University here, socioeconomic standing of "pretty damned good". My wife, same story, a doctor.

1) Read our history as a collective group before making assertions about what is an is not in our blood. Because reading is a lost art for most of you, I'll get to the conclusion. We are business people, we are educated, we are civilized, we are leaders in the communities we enter. Examples: Iran, Lebanon, Russia, the US (plenty of successful, educated, and generous millionaires). Per capita we do extremely well. Just walk into any of our local universities and do the math on how many Armenian kids there are vis a vis our population. As someone mentioned (and to put it in perspective), there are less of us in the entire world than there are illegals in CA alone.

2) We like it when douchebags who cheat the system get what they deserve, regardless of origin. Why? Because we contribute quite a bit to the system as well!

3) Madoff scammed more ($ value) in one fell swoop over the course of a couple years than scam artist mafioso Armenian Americans have in their entire lifetimes, combined, here in the states.

4) Again, perspective is important. Don't lose sight of it when posting stupid comments about an entire ethnic group(s) being deported or borders being shut off, especially when your grandfathers were probably immigrants themselves (unless you're native to this land).

5) For having so many evil Armenians, Glendale is a pretty damned clean city, economically prosperous, with lots of businesses, lots of development, good schools, lots of housing, and not a ton of violent crime. You think that this is in spite of Armenians destroying the city, or a testament to what the good ones have worked to build?

Mike Hughes: Clearly, you're just looking for a reason to break out any type of liquor. Though "champaign" is one I haven't ever seen on the shelves.

Law enforcement is more interested in gangs who are after white color crime, rather than gangs who kill every day. Gangs are killing innocent 16/17 years old kids, i don’t see any effort to crack down on these gangs (and believe me that’s not AP style). Do you know why this gang was a priority? Because this case looks good in their portfolio, they can actually show bogus dollar amounts and look good.

I'm armenian. Family legally migrated to U.S. over 40 years ago and have always lived in Glendale. Always glad to hear criminals are arrested...don't care what nationality they are. But what strikes me is how quickly people are ready to be judge and jury and persecute all armenians as criminals. This type of stereotyping and intolerance is the cause of mankind's worst crimes to humanity.

I'm Turkish and I live in Glendale. I have a lot of armenian friends they are nice friendly and hard working people. There are few bad apples but who cares. Justice is served. Glendale is nice city, Privileged to live and work here. BTW, I totally agree that BMW is official car of Glendale :) But i like japanese cars.

Maybe now would be a good time for the LA Times to investigate just what goes on in Glendale that gives that city the reputation it has. Every time I bring up "Glendale" in conversation anywhere in Los Angeles what follows is either incredibly unflattering commentary referencing crime and corruption or conspicuous silence and a quick change of subject. What is going on in that town that elicits such negative opinions about that city? Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

Wow, look at the response from Armenians denouncing these thugs, and their actions. The thrill that the community is rid of them shows in their written words.

Not every ethnic group does that, I mean communities terrorized by prison influence, several hundred of members taking into custody, and not a whisper from the so called law abiding citizens.

Its sad that some cultures believe gangs within their culture is a badge of honor or something,

The crime will be major issue until we ALL understand, with our stereotypical brains, that it is not associated with ethnic groups but rather with types of people. Because our behavior and our action will follow our understanding.
There are so many cultures present in U.S. that it is easier to associate action of several people with the ethnic group. And it is mainly bad actions we "care" about ...

Why don't we open up our minds and try to communicate and learn to differentiate bad from good inside all the cultures that we have here.
Why don't we notice and acknowledge good people and good deeds!

You think this will make LA streets safer? Not until you identify your enemy (crime) instead of jumping to conclusions and just looking for somebody to blame.

I'm Armenian and some Armenians from the former Soviet Union have been corrupted by the former Soviet Union. These ones (mostly AP) were from the former Soviet Union. This is why communism failed because it couldn't continue due to trying to beat the government.
Armenians outside this would never do this. All professionals!

Interesting that the "black street gangs" are not indentified by name? Do they exist? Other gangs including Aremenian Power and Mexican Mafia areidentified by name. Is there a reason that the black gang isn't named?

Los Angeles County has a very small percentage of blacks (less than 6% now)--black gangs for the most part have disbanded. The two organizations that allegedly had power, the Bloods and the Crips, have dwindled in membership and in large part are no longer active.

Oh...my..Gosh...here we go again. Being Armenian myself I find this very belittling. Its funny how the ppl in a gang that supposedly is to protect or represent a culture is really the reason y its a JOKE!!!! C'mon guys....I think you'd get the point across much better if u get a few inventions, scientific breakthroughs, or Nobel prizes under your belt...no ones gonna remember you for this. Uuggghhh. Its sad that we really do have amazing members of society in our culture...but it is aalll covered by the smog of street life. Thanks guys... appreciate it... :/. BUT SIDE NOTE...LET'S STOP WITH THE HATING. EVERY CULTURE HAS ITS FAILURES. AMERICANS ARE NOT EXCLUDED. Don't victimize yourselves please. No ones perfect.

Really Jaytee? Glendale is absolutely NOT a pit.....Don't you think you are generalizing a bit? A few bad apples in all race/creed/nationality ruin the reputation of lots of good people if you buy into such generalizations....What about the thousands and thousands of Armenians who have lived, worked, raised kids, in Glendale and contribute to taxes and to the growth of the city?

Come on!

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