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Multi Agency Effort to Bring Two Violent Gang members to Justice

Asian_Boyz_news confrence

Los Angeles:   The FBI, State Department along with the Los Angeles police have arrested two brothers from an Asian gang who were responsible for a series of murders in one of the largest multi-defendant death penalty cases in California History. The two are currently awaiting extradition to California from the Philippines.

Asian_gang_01Detectives have been tracking Marvin, 35, and Pierre Mercado, 32, for more than a decade now.  The Mercado brothers are members of a violent Asian street gang in Los Angeles.  Since the early 1990s, police have connected the two men to multiple gang-related crimes including burglary, robbery, attempt murder, and murder.

In 1995, the LAPD created a task force to address this violent street gang. For months, detectives focused on the group.  They were up against cultural barriers, language issues, and a strict code of silence.  Finally, the team of detectives were able to identify most of the members and connect them to some of the most violent unsolved crimes throughout the region.

"The FBI has been seeking the Mercado brothers overseas on behalf of the LAPD for several years," said Salvador Hernandez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.  "It is gratifying to know that some of the victims of their alleged crimes will have the chance to see them returned to the U.S. to face prosecution.  The FBI and the LAPD work collaboratively to capture fugitives that flee Los Angeles - and justice."

Background

Asian_gang_04On December 3, 1993, turmoil broke out at a Los Angeles pool hall and a turf war began between two rival gangs.  During the brawl, which was caught on surveillance tape, the two gangs got into a serious shootout.  After the police studied the tape, they found out that Chung Lewong Yang attacked members of the rival Asian gang, including one of their members, Lea Mek, who died at scene.  Following the shooting, police believe the Mercado brothers and their gang declared war on Wah Ching.

The pool hall brawl marked the beginning of a three year crime spree by the Asian gang, who had vowed to seek revenge.  During an 18-month stretch between 1995 and 1996, police connected the Asian gang to a dozen murders:

  • On April 14, 1995, near Valerio Street and Van Nuys Boulevard, members of the Asian gang shot and killed two rival Valerio Street gang members, Armando Estrada and Eugene Alonzo in an apartment complex.
  • On August 1, 1995, Cheng Peng, Paul Vu, and Ben Liao were driving on the I-10 freeway near San Gabriel, when they were attacked by the Asian gang in a brutal drive by shooting.  All three victims died at scene.
  • On September 20, 1995, Jon Gregory, his wife, and two children were asleep in their home, when members of the Asian gang forced their way into the home and shot and killed Jon, while he tried to protect his family.

On May 30, 1996, officers rounded up 19 members of the Asian gang.  However, the police did not have enough evidence to hold two of the top leaders, Sothi Mehn and Marvin Mercado. 

In 1997, police finally got a break when an informant came forward and the Deputy District Attorney filed murder warrants for Sothi Mehn and Marvin Mercado.  Mehn was captured in Phnom Penh, Cambodia by members of the Cambodian Army.  His arrest was a direct result of a tip from "America's Most Wanted." 

Seven of the gang members have been convicted and are serving life sentences.  It was the largest multi-defendant death penalty case in California history.  During the trial, the state's most important witness, an Asian gang member was testifying in court, when his father was murdered in his home in San Jose by the rival gang, in an attempt to dissuade his testimony.

Investigators found out that Marvin and Pierre Mercado were hiding out in the Philippines. LAPD detectives along with the FBI, State Department, and the Philippine Government captured the two brothers in Manila in September 2007. 

Currently, Marvin and Pierre are being detained in the Philippines pursuant to immigration violations.  Their extradition has been pending a habeas corpus hearing.  Detectives from the LAPD have recently travelled to the Philippines to assist the FBI and Philippine authorities in extraditing the Mercado brothers back to Los Angeles to face trial.  Marvin Mercado has been indicted by a grand jury for six counts of murder and other charges.  Pierre Mercado faces attempt murder charges, all stemming from their days as gang members.

When Marvin and Pierre Mercado are returned to Los Angeles to face trial, the Asian Boyz crime spree will finally come to an end.  Despite the unusually long habeas corpus hearing in the Philippines, we are confident that the Mercados will be returned by the authorities there to face justice.  This case epitomizes the Los Angeles Police Department's commitment to pursue criminal gang members no matter how many years have passed, and even if they are half a world away.

If you have any questions, please contact Sergeant Walter Teague at 213-972-2460 or Media Relations at 213-485-3586.


Art Gallery Owner Convicted of Theft and Fraud

Los Angeles: Los Angeles police arrested a 68-year-old Los Angeles woman for the theft of artworks valued at more than $295,000 and are looking for victims to come forward and claim their property.

Kajorn Lekhakul Howard – the former owner of Images of East and West which was an art gallery located at 12627 West Washington Boulevard in Venice – was arrested in February 2008.  The gallery specialized in Asian art and Howard posed as a legitimate dealer and engaged in a persistent pattern of deceit, embezzlement, and fraud.  She lured people into entrusting her with their art and money, detectives said. 

In September 2002, Howard left Los Angeles, taking with her art property, from more than 45 artists and customers.

On February 19, 2008, Howard was arrested during a routine traffic stop in the town of Seagoville, Texas.  Both Howard and her common-law spouse Louis Bell were living in Seagoville after fleeing California.  Shortly after, Bell was arrested and both were extradited back to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed multiple counts of grand theft and conspiracy and a warrant was issued for Howard’s and Bell’s arrest.

Art theft detectives recovered over 290 stolen items from storage locations in the Dallas area.  The detectives transported the art back to Los Angeles and are asking for victims to come forward and claim their property.

On June 16, 2008, Howard pled guilty and was sentenced to the Los Angeles County Jail.  The terms of the sentence also included probation and restitution.

Kajorn_howard_2A photo of the suspect is available through Media Relations Section.  Please contact Art Theft Detail Detective Donald Hrycyk at 213-485-2524 to view a website link of the victim’s stolen art property.   

Anyone who has knowledge of this incident is asked to call the Art Theft Detail Detectives Hrycyk or Stephanie Lazarus at 213-485-2524.  After hours, calls may be directed to the        24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL.


72-Year-Old Woman Missing

Los Angeles: The family of Joe Ella Adkins and the Los Angeles Police Department request the public's assistance in locating Mrs. Adkins.

Mrs. Adkins was last seen on July 6, 2008 at the 6000 block of South Wilton Place in Los Angeles.   

Adkins_photo Mrs. Adkins is described as a female Black with blonde hair, brown eyes, stands 5 feet 2 inches tall, and weighs around 145 pounds.  She was last seen wearing a green shirt, blue jeans, and a brown sweater.

Mrs. Adkins suffers from Alzheimer's and high blood pressure, and is in need of her medication.

A photograph is available through Media Relations Section 213-485-3586.

Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD's Missing Person's Unit, Detective Kwock at 213-485-5381.  On weekends or during off-hours, call the 24-hour number at1-877-LAWFULL (529-3855).


COMPSTAT Citywide Profile

Crime Statistics July 5, 2008

VIOLENT CRIMES                2008**            2007**       % Chg

Homicide                             198*                190            +4.2%
Rape                                    387                 449           -13.8%
Robbery                              6354               6905            -8.0%
Agg Assaults **                    6196               6581            -5.9%
Total Violent Crimes       13,135           14,125           -7.0%

PROPERTY CRIMES

Burglary                              9516               9975            -4.6%
BTFV                                 14970             16014            -6.5%
Personal/Other Theft         13271             14096            -5.9%
Auto Theft                        11183              12204            -8.4%
Total Property Crimes    48,940           52,289           -6.4%
Total Part I Crimes         62,075           66,414           -6.5%

* Numbers reflects a change in reclassification for Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) guidelines and numbers are adjusted accordingly.

** Prior to 2005, Aggravated Assaults included Child/Spousal Simple Assaults


Doctor Arrested for Sexual Assault of Patient

Los Angeles: A general practitioner medical doctor was arrested this morning after a year-long investigation involving the sexual assault of a patient.

Rhd_brownkevin On July 8, 2008, at around 9:30 a.m., Kevin Antario Brown, 37-years of age, was arrested on a $50,000 arrest warrant that was obtained by detectives from Robbery Homicide Division, Rape Special Section, upon conclusion of the year-long investigation. 

In June 2007 an 18-year-old female reported to police that during a medical examination by Dr. Brown she was inappropriately touched.  As a result of this report, detectives assigned to Detective Support and Vice Division, and Robbery Homicide Division, conducted an undercover operation.  During the operation a female undercover operator posing as a patient was also inappropriately touched during a medical exam.

Detectives presented the case to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Sex Crime Unit, resulting in the $50,000 warrant being issued and multiple felony and misdemeanor charges being filed.  The charges against Dr.Brown relate to sexual battery by fraud and sexual exploitation by a physician.  Dr. Brown was taken into custody without incident by Fugitive Warrant Section.

Dr. Brown had been practicing medicine at the Crenshaw Expo Medical Center, 3631 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Detectives believe there may be additional victims or witnesses and are asking for anyone with information about this case, or additional information about similar crimes involving Dr. Brown to call Detective Monica Cross or Lieutenant Felicia Hall, Robbery-Homicide Division at 213-485-2921.  On weekends and off hours call the toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL.


NOTES FOR THE JULY 8, 2008 POLICE COMMISSION WEEKLY MEETING

•    Police Commission President Anthony Pacheco participated in a ride along with Metropolitan Division in Southeast Area.

•    Commissioner Robert Saltzman attended the Skid Row Neighborhood Watch Walk sponsored by the Central City East Association.

•    Commissioner Alan Skobin attended a meeting with Councilmember Jack Weiss to discuss the Department’s forensic capabilities and staffing needs within its Scientific Investigation Division.  He also attended the 77th Area Station’s roll call and West Point Graduation.

•    Chief of Staff 1st Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell reported on two recent investigations.  He announced, through forensic technology, cold case detectives have linked four (4) additional homicides which occurred between 1986 and 1990 to convicted killer Michael Hughes.  Assistant Chief McDonnell also informed the Commission that a bomb threat suspect was arrested at LAX this past week. 

•    Commissioner Alan Skobin questioned what the Department was doing to staff the vacant positions in its Scientific Investigation Division and how the positions were being funded.  In response to his questions, Police Commission President Anthony Pacheco requested the item be agendized and the Department prepare a report in response.

•    Police Commission President Anthony Pacheco also announced, in response to the Martha Puebla case, the Commission has requested a thorough investigation be conducted by the Office of the Inspector General.

•    The verbal presentation and update relative to the status of Personnel Complaint Investigations arising from the May 1, 2007 MacArthur Park Incident as presented by Commander Rick Webb was received.  He reported the adjudication was conducted between June 23rd and June 26th.  Seventeen officers and two sergeants sustained allegations.  The officers are working with the union to formulate their Skelly response to the proposed discipline.  They must reply within 30 days.  Once the responses have been collected, the Captains will include any recommendations before forwarding the responses to the Chief of Police.  In response to Commissioner Alan Skobin’s questioning if an investigation of the command staff, Sergeants and above, was conducted, Commission President Anthony Pacheco requested the matter be re-agendized to discuss the matter further. 

•    The Executive Director’s report, dated July 3, 2008, relative to the City Controller’s Review of Auto Impound Contracts at the Los Angeles Police Commission, was approved.

•    The Department’s report, dated June 27, 2008, relative to the Office of the Inspector General’s Training Evaluation and Management System (TEAMS II) Audit, Phase I, Fiscal Year 2007/08, dated November 6, 2007, was received and filed.

•    The Department’s report, dated June 25, 2008, relative to the Quarterly Status Report, Fourth Quarter, Fiscal Year 2007/08, prepared by Audit Division, as presented by Police Performance Auditor Erin Kenney was approved.   

•    The Department’s report, dated June 25, 2008, relative to the Vehicle Pursuit Management Audit (AD No. 07-025), was approved.                                 

•    The Department’s report, dated June 25, 2008, relative to the Categorical Use of Force Investigations Audit (AD No. C07-007), was approved and forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General for further review.                   

•    The Department’s report, dated June 27, 2008, relative to the Supervisory Performance Evaluations Audit (AD No. 07-023), as presented by Captain Kevin McClure was approved.  He reported the new performance evaluation report would be coming out soon.  The new form, as well as additional training will assist in streamlining the process and compliance with the Consent Decree.  The Department continues to work on implementing the Audit’s recommendations.  Commission President Anthony Pacheco thanked Captain McClure and his staff for their efforts.             

•    The Department’s report, dated June 30, 2008, relative to the Non-Categorical Use of Force Investigations Audit (AD No. C07-004), was approved and forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General for further review.             

•    The Department’s report, dated June 20, 2008, relative to the Transmittal of the Budget Modification and Extension Request for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Interoperable Communications Technology Program (ICTP) Grant, was approved and transmitted to the Mayor and City Council.

•    The Department’s report, dated July 3, 2008, relative to the Motorcycle Training Contract -Agreement No. 80112109, was approved and transmitted to the Mayor and City Council.

•    The Department’s report, dated June 24, 2008, relative to the Transmittal of the Grant Application for the 2008/09 Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Program, was approved and transmitted to the Mayor and City Council.

•    The Department’s report, dated June 30, 2008, relative to the California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook, was approved.            

•    The Department’s report, dated March 28, 2008, and the Inspector General’s report, dated June 27, 2008, relative to the Department’s Gang Enforcement Detail Selection Criteria Audit (Fiscal Year 2007/08), were approved.

•    The Department’s report, dated May 1, 2008, and Inspector General’s report, dated June 27, 2008, relative to the Ethics Enforcement Section’s Quarterly Report, First Quarter, 2008, as presented by Assistant Inspector General Django Sibley and Assistant Inspector General Beth Kennedy Alonso were approved.


May Day 2007 Investigation Update

This morning, during a scheduled update into the investigation of actions by Los Angeles police officers during the May 1, 2007 May Day rally in MacArthur Park; the Department reported to members of the Board of Police Commissioners, allegations of misconduct were sustained against 17 police officers and two sergeants.

A panel made up of members of the LAPD Command Staff reviewed the findings of the comprehensive investigation and prepared recommendations for discipline.  Each officer was served on June 26, 2008, by their individual commanding officer, with the adjudication panel’s findings.  The officer’s will have 30-days to respond to the proposed discipline, known as a Skelly response. 

It is anticipated Police Chief William Bratton will review the findings of the investigation and the officer’s Skelly responses in early August.  Once he has completed his review, the Chief will make the final decision on discipline for the 17 officers and two sergeants.

The officers and sergeants have the option to take their case to a Board of Rights (BOR), if they do not accept the proposed discipline.  A BOR is made up of two LAPD Command Officers and a Civilian Hearing Examiner.  Their findings are then forwarded to the Chief of Police for final adjudication.

State law precludes the Los Angeles Police Department from disclosing specific allegations or findings of a confidential personnel investigation, including the names of the involved officers.


Cold Case Detectives Arrest Suspect Wanted for Sexual Misconduct

Los Angeles: Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives have solved a sexual misconduct case when the suspect was arrested and booked on June 25, 2008.

The Robbery-Homicide Division’s (RHD) Detectives assigned to the Cold Case Special Section closed an investigation when Kimberly Hald was arrested and booked on charges for rape and kidnapping.  Hald was booked at LAPD’s 77th Jail Section with bail set at $495,000.

Last year, LAPD detectives began an investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships between Hald, a female Los Angeles County Probation Department employee, and juvenile males being detained at Eastlake Juvenile Detention Facility. 

The LAPD detectives worked closely with the LA County Probation Department and the District Attorney’s office, which resulted in a felony warrant being issued on June 24, 2008 for Hald, alleging 16-counts of sexual misconduct.  Hald, 35 years old, was arrested at her residence in San Pedro by LAPD officers. 

For further information, please contact Detectives Jeff Allen or Virginia Rubalcava at 213-485-3165. 


Driver Crashes and Flees, His Passenger Dies

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a man wanted for Felony Hit and Run Driving after he collided with numerous cars and a house, causing the death of a rear seat passenger.

On Saturday, July 5, 2008 at around 2:00 a.m., Jesus Alexander Mejia Escalante, 26 years of age, was driving a gray 1994 Acura Integra southbound on Normandie Avenue at 26th Street. Escalante was speeding when his car collided with a blue 1999 Honda Odyssey.

Escalante failed to stop to identify himself as is required by law, and continued driving southbound on Normandie Avenue. As he neared 36th street he lost control of the Acura and collided with a parked car.

Failing again to stop after causing this second collision, Escalante continued in a southwesterly direction and crashed for a third time, into a house. Though the house was occupied at the time, there were no injuries reported by the residents.

Escalante ran away from the third crash, leaving 22-year-old, Cecillo Flores, dead in the backseat of the car.

Anyone with information regarding the circumstances surrounding this collision or the whereabouts of Escalante is asked to call South Traffic Detectives at 323-290-6063, or the South Traffic Division Watch Commander at 213-485-7336. On weekends and off hours call the toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL.


Target and LAPD Partner to Launch New Crime Fighting Capabilities

 

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Target have announced the formation of unique public-private partnership to foster safe families and communities in Southern California. The first step will be developing and deploying an automated Citywide Crime and Resources Dashboard. Because every second matters, this technology will make our community even safer by detecting and analyzing crime and emergencies as they happen.

LAPD Regional Crime Center analysts will use the Dashboard to monitor the overall “health” of the City relative to actual deployment, evolving emergencies, calls for service, suspicious activity reports, reported crimes and arrests, clearance rates and other specific criteria. When thresholds are met, the system will prompt decisions from senior managers regarding emerging crime trends, unusual occurrences, and developing situations or emergencies.

The LAPD anticipates many benefits, including a decrease in violent crime, investigative time, overtime, and detective backlog as well as increases in the number of arrests, collaborative law enforcement efforts and cooperation between LAPD and our private sector partners.

Chief Bratton expressed his gratitude to the Los Angeles Police Foundation for continuing to look for ways to improve public safety through partnerships with the business community. “This partnership is a major step in our collective efforts to ensure public safety in the Los Angeles region and I look forward to a long and successful Target & Blue partnership aimed at our bottom line which is ‘fewer victims.”

“Since the day Target opened its doors in 1962, the company has dedicated 5 percent of its income to making positive changes in the community. This is just one small way we can help build safe families and communities throughout Los Angeles,” said Bryan Nagel, Director of Assets Protection at Target. “Law enforcement officers are facing increasingly sophisticated criminals so it’s important they have more innovative tools.”

This partnership is part of Target & BLUE, through which Target partners with local, state and federal law enforcement by providing equipment, grants, training and world-class forensic support.

For additional information, please contact Lieutenant Sean Malinowski, Regional Crime Center, LAPD at 213-978-6500, Florence Chung, Target Corporation at 626-844-1320, Karen Wagener, Los Angeles Police Foundation at 213-489-4636, or LAPD Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.