A probe into Armenian organized crime in the San Fernando Valley resulted in the arrests Wednesday of five people who authorities say plotted to kill members of a rival group, even recruiting jail inmates to carry out hits.
Glendale police, the FBI, sheriff's detectives and the National Insurance Crime Bureau began investigating what authorities described as a Glendale-based crime ring in March 2001. Each of the suspects is accused of participating in a plot to kill or to hire killers for eight victims. None of the targets was harmed.
"We believe we thwarted the murders that were planned," said police Sgt. Kirk Palmer.
Suspects Edvard Gyulnazaryan, 40, of Burbank and Gagik Galoyan, 53, of Glendale, allegedly operated an insurance, credit card and check fraud ring from a business they co-owned. The men, who authorities say also were involved in extortion, allegedly hoped the killings would eliminate competition from other organized crime rings.
"The individuals who were targeted may have been rivals," Palmer said.
Also arrested Wednesday were Gayk Tadevoysyan, 38, Andranik Safaryan, 24, and a juvenile who was not identified.
All three are from Glendale. A sixth man, Edgar Hatamian, 21, remains at large, and authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest.
Those in custody were booked on suspicion of conspiracy to commit and solicit murder and held on bail amounts ranging from $1 million to $9.5 million.
Two years ago, Glendale police also participated in the arrests of another Armenian organized crime ring that plotted to kidnap and extort an Eastern European businessman seeking asylum in the U.S.