Since 2008 the FBI has been working on a street band from North Hollywood after a massive shootout between Armenian Power and another street band which ended with two men dead. Pulling the thread, the agents discovered that those armenian were actually a very well organized structure, really a criminal company with branches in a variety of felonies as fraud, drugs, extortion, kidnapping, etc.

Seized firearms

The investigation revealed that this street gang was actually an international organized criminal enterprise whose illegal activities ranged from bank fraud and identity theft to violent extortion and kidnappings. It also revealed that this enterprise victimized its own Armenian community in California. By 2011, we had enough evidence to charge 90 Armenian Power leaders, members, and associates in two separate indictments.

Of those 90 charged, 87 have been convicted, including one of the enterprise’s primary leaders—Mher Darbinyan—who was recently sentenced to 32 years in prison. (Of the three remaining indicted individuals, prosecutors dropped the charges against one, and the other two are currently fugitives.)

Court-authorized wiretaps on 25 different phone numbers were a key part of the case. Through these conversations, the FBI was able to obtain a wealth of incriminating evidence as defendants spoke about targeting wealthy Armenians for robbery, planning check fraud activity, making illegal firearms deals, installing skimmers on ATMs, watering illegal marijuana plants in a warehouse, mailing illegal narcotics to customers, planning kidnappings, and extorting money from victims using threats of violence.