A police raid in Los Angeles shut down an extorsion network of alleged gang members who were targeting food truck vendors in Hollywood. The police indicted 20 suspected gang members, including four women, who are said to be part of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, or MS-13.
Since 2007, these suspected gang members allegedly demanded "rent" ranging from $30 to $100 per week to vendors in order to operate trucks in the area, threatening against victims' lives and their families. They also demanded free food, according to the indictments.
The victims of the shakedown were not operators of the trendy foodie fusion trucks that have become popular in recent years, but those "serving blue-collar construction workers," according to the Los Angeles Times.
The defendants were arrested on March 14, during a police sweep, and as part of a year-long investigation that the police dubbed "Operation Protecting the Dream." "Criminal street gangs make their living extorting the weak, extorting those that have no voice, extorting people that are hard-working men and women just trying to provide for their families," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck during a press conference on Thursday.