Armenian Power crackdown continues

Of the 70 people charged Wednesday in Los Angeles County with assisting an Armenian organized crime ring, 19 defendants lived in Glendale and six lived in Burbank, according to documents from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Local and federal authorities arrested dozens of alleged members and associates of the gang Armenian Power during a massive regional takedown Wednesday dubbed “Operation Power Outage.” FBI officials said Thursday that they are continuing a search for about 25 more people.

The operation was aimed at dismantling the criminal enterprise’s racketeering operations, which included kidnapping, bank fraud, identity theft, extortion and drug trafficking. Those listed in the federal indictments allegedly defrauded the public of at least $20 million.

Of the 19 defendants from Glendale, nine were charged with engaging in identity theft and loan, bank, and access card device fraud. Others named in the indictment face robbery and witness intimidation charges.

Eight defendants were charged under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Another eight face various drug charges, including marijuana cultivation and bringing narcotics into prison. Five were charged with gun-related offenses.

Among the allegations included in the federal indictments:

Montrose resident Raymond Tarverdyan, 32, was accused of installing credit card skimming devices at 99 Cents Only stores in Whittier and Riverside to acquire customer account information.

The discount store caught on to the $2-million scheme, authorities said, which reportedly started the investigation that led to the takedown.

Glendale residents Paramaz Bilezikchyan, 50, and Suren Torosyan, 38, allegedly kidnapped a man on Nov. 25, 2009, and took him to an undisclosed location where he was held for ransom.

Speaking in coded language, the indictment alleged Bilezikchyan warned Glendale resident Aram Petrosian, 33, who was charged, that he was worried their captive’s “heart was going to stop” out of fear when they showed him a large hole in the ground.

They allegedly demanded $100,000 to return the man and another $400,000 to avoid future kidnappings, according to the indictment.

The kidnapping earned Bilezikchyan $200,000, which he offered to spilt with another defendant, according to the indictment.

Glendale resident Ara Fermanyan, 23, was also accused in the indictment of robbing someone at gunpoint at a Burbank gas station in June 2007.

In announcing the arrests on Wednesday with other local and federal officials, Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said Armenian Power, already active in Glendale for at least a decade, has created alliances with local criminal street gangs to further their enterprise.

“I think that creates a new animal that law enforcement has to deal with that represents a significant public safety threat to our area going forward,” he said.


The following were defendants named in a 212-page federal indictment, which was released Wednesday.

Glendale residents:

Vardan Amirkhanyan, 50; Khachatur Arakelyan, 37; Arsen Ayranjian, 37; Paramaz Bilezikchyan, 50; Garen Chouldjian, 25; Ara Fermanyan, 23; Artur Gabrelyan, 47; Garik Galstyan, 23, and 34-year-old Jack Gambaryan.

Zhirayr Karayan, 58; Arnold Moradians, 42; David Muradyan, 22; Grachia Nalbandyan, 22; Aram Petrosian, 33; Souren Serobyan, 27; Marat Shakhramanyan, 37; Vazgen Topadzhikyan, 22 and 38-year-old Suren Torosyan.

Montrose resident Raymond Tarverdyan, 32, was also named.

Burbank residents:

Vartan Avedissian, 58; Adam Davoodian, 29; Armen Hovanissian, 33; Karen Markosian, 37; Lusine Ogandganyan, 33 and 34-year-old Artur Pembejian.

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