Armenian Power

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Armenian Power
Armenian Power graffiti.jpg
Armenian Power graffiti in Little Armenia
Founded1989[1]
FounderArmen “Silent” Petrosyan
Founding locationEast Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
Years active1989–present
TerritoryGlendale, Burbank, Hollywood intersections, Hollywood Boulevard, Little Armenia, North Hollywood and Normandie Avenue
EthnicityArmenian American
Membership (est.)3,500[2]
ActivitiesRacketeering, murder, assault, kidnapping, extortion, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, credit card fraud, illegal gambling, drug trafficking[1]
AlliesCosa Nostra[3]
Armenian mafia[3]
Mexican Mafia[3]
Bratva[3]
Sureños[4][5][6]
RivalsToonerville Rifa 13[7] Vineland Boys[8]

Armenian Power 13, AP13, APX3 also known as AP,[9] the Armenian Mob,[10][11] or Armenian Mafia[12][13] is an Armenian criminal organization and street gang founded and currently based in Los Angeles County, California.[14] They are involved in drug trafficking, murder, assault, fraud, identity theft, illegal gambling, kidnapping, racketeering, robbery and extortion.[1] They are believed to have around 3,500 members and hundreds of associates, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.[15] They are also well known for their connections with the Mexican-American Mafia.

History[edit]

Armenian Power is was found in the early 1990s by Armenian-American gangster Armen “Silent” Petrosyan. When 15-year-old Armen Petrosyan arrived in East Hollywood from Armenia in 1989, he encountered larger, long-established street gangs that often preyed upon the smaller and more recent group of Armenian immigrants. Petrosyan and his friends formed a defensive alliance that grew into the Armenian Power street gang and at its peak in the mid-1990s, had about 120 members.

Silent was a street legend, an alley fighter renowned for never backing down from a challenge. He earned his nickname because he seldom spoke, but as another Armenian Power member known as Hando told The Times in 1998, “When Silent talked, everybody listened.”

Petrosyan was born in 1973 in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. He helped form Armenian Power in the late 1980s, when it came to be known as “AP.”

“AP is a gang of Armenians that began in order to protect the Armenian youth population from being preyed upon by Mexican gangs,” said the LAPD’s Teague.

AP had its territory in Glendale and Hollywood and other areas thought out LA. Barnsdall Park was a popular spot where AP usually hung around, or at the famous intersection Hollywood and Normandie.

Many people feared the Armenian Power Gang and that how powerful they were and how they stood their ground. They always got into altercations with other gangs protecting other Armenians or fighting for territory.


According to a 1996 report by the Office of the California Attorney General, Armenian Power has strong ties to Russian organized crime.[16] In the summer of 1988, two dozen gang members took over the parking lot of a mini-mall in East Hollywood and turned it into their headquarters. They intimidated patrons of the mall's restaurants and clothing stores, forcing the shop owners to hire some off-duty LAPD officers for security.

By mid-1997 the Armenian Power gang was believed to be responsible for a dozen driveby murders.[17]

AP leadership also maintains ties to Armenia and Russia and deals directly with high level Armenian/Russian organized crime figures.[18]

Gang activity has never been reported in East Coast, Midwestern, Northern or Southern Armenian-American communities primarily composed of Van (central) Armenians, Syrian-Armenians and Iraqi-Armenians. The unique ethnic composition of the Los Angeles area, which had a strong presence of many different gangs, played a major role in the creation of the Armenian Power gang.[19]

Though on the street-level Armenian Power may seem to be merely a loosely organized youth street gang, the street gang component is merely one aspect of the organization, with younger street gang members often serving as the enforcement arm or "soldiers" for a more organized Armenian-American criminal organization consisting of higher-up members. Armenian Power's status as a highly organized crime group rather than simply a street gang became apparent when Armenian-American gangsters were found to be involved in the 2010 Medicaid fraud case and the 2011 FBI-led Operation Power Outage. According to the official FBI website: "The Southern California crime ring called Armenian Power may look like a traditional street gang—members identify themselves with tattoos and gang clothing—but the group is really an international organized crime enterprise whose illegal activities allegedly range from bank fraud and identity theft to violent extortion and kidnapping."[20]

On November 4, 2019, Armenian Power "shot caller" Mher Darbinyan was sentenced to a 32-year prison term. He faces deportation to Armenia once he is released.[21]

Mexican-Armenian conflict[edit]

Armenian Power has had a history of conflict with Sureño gangs, which are controlled by the Mexican Mafia, in the past, but the war is thought to have ended in recent years.[22][23] Armen "Silent" Petrosyan, a founder of Armenian Power, was shot to death on May 22, 2000 by Jose Argueta, a member of the Sureño White Fence gang.[24][25] In 2000, the murder of a 17-year-old Mexican-American outside of Hoover High School in Glendale by Armenian Power members sparked dialogue to find ways to help end the war between the gangs.[26]

Today the Mexican Mafia prison gang collects protection money from Armenian Power, which has added the number 13 to its name as a sign of loyalty. The two gangs, and the Sureños, now work together to both control and extort protection money from criminal activities in the Los Angeles area.[27]

Operation Power Outage[edit]

On February 16, 2011 during Operation Power Outage over 900 federal and local law enforcement authorities arrested nearly 100 people allegedly involved in Armenian organized crime in the Los Angeles area. Much of the crime was white collar in nature, including identity theft crimes such as credit card skimming.[28][29] The range of crimes included kidnapping, fraud, extortion, identity theft, loansharking, robbery, witness intimidation, drug trafficking, drug charges including marijuana cultivation and bringing narcotics into prison, gun-related offenses, and murder.

Involvement in the Syrian Civil War[edit]

In 2014, two Los Angeles gang members, one belonging to Armenian Power and the other a Sureño, were videotaped in Syria fighting in support of the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad.[30]

In popular culture[edit]

  • A fictionalized version of the gang, titled "Armenian Might", appeared in multiple seasons of the FX drama series The Shield, which starred Michael Chiklis as Detective Vic Mackey. In Season 6, German film actress Franka Potente appeared as Armenian Might shotcaller Diro Kesakhian, who routinely ordered the murders of the families of those who offend her. When one associate balks at this, Diro responds, "We can't separate the ones we love from the choices we make."
  • A fictional Armenian Mob appears in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Franklin Clinton’s former employer, Simeon Yetarian, is associated with the gang. Many of the younger members of the group dress in the typical Chicano style much like the Armenian Power.
  • NCIS-Los Angeles mentions the Armenian Mob several times, particularly in Season 2, Episode 11.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "More than 70 reputed Armenian gangsters arrested". Reuters. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  2. ^ Armenian Power Leader Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison for Racketeering, Extortion and Fraud justice.gov (November 12, 2014)
  3. ^ a b c d Roots of the Armenian Power Gang Richard Valdemar, policemag.com (March 1, 2011)
  4. ^ "LA gangbangers fighting for Assad in Syria". YouTube. 2014-03-03. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  5. ^ Facebook Twitter email Print Article AA (2014-03-05). "The Mysterious Case of L.A. Gangsters in Syria". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  6. ^ Speri, Alice (2014-03-05). "LA Gang 'Homies' Claim to Be Fighting in Syria | VICE News". News.vice.com. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  7. ^ The Bowtie Parcel’s Next-Door Neighbors Ruxandra Guidi and Bear Guerra, KCET (October 9, 2018)
  8. ^ The Vineland Boys Gang Richard Valdemar, policemag.com (August 21, 2007)
  9. ^ Coleman, Wanda (1996). Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors. Black Sparrow Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-57423-024-6.
  10. ^ Fox, Hayley (July 3, 2014). "TAKING DOWN ARMENIAN POWER, CALIFORNIA'S MODERN MAFIA". LA Weekly. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  11. ^ Watkins, Thomas. "Armenian mob's power seen in foiled Medicare fraud ring". Daily Breeze. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Proud to Be Armenian: 99 gang members indicted in bust of crime syndicate" (February 17, 2011). Armenia Now. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  13. ^ "100 CHARGED IN ARMENIAN MAFIA SWEEP ~ LOS ANGELES". L.A. Taco. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  14. ^ Krikorian, Michael (August 17, 1997). Violent Gang Is a Stain on a Proud Ethnic Community Series: The rise of a small street gang, Armenian Power, is causing a tragic cycle of fear and death. Los Angeles Times
  15. ^ Glendale News Press (11 September 2013). "Eight plead guilty to involvement with Armenian crime ring". Glendale News Press. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Russian Organized Crime". Office of the California Attorney General. March 1996.
  17. ^ Rodriguez, Luis (2003). Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times, p. 38. Seven Stories Press, ISBN 978-1-58322-564-6
  18. ^ "Armenian Power Organized Crime Group Targeted in Federal Indictments That Allege Racketeering Offenses, Including Bank Fraud Schemes, Kidnappings, and Drug Trafficking".
  19. ^ "Generational Impact of Mass Trauma" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  20. ^ "Armenian Organized Crime Group Targeted". FBI. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  21. ^ "Armenian Power gang leader sentenced to prison in Southern California case for crimes including $1 million 99 Cents Only debit-card skimming scam". Daily News. 2019-11-04. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  22. ^ Ryan, Harriet (September 19, 2003). Mark Geragos out of Peterson spotlight. CNN
  23. ^ Yablonsky, Lewis (2005). Gangs in court. Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-930056-79-4.
  24. ^ Krikorkian, Michael (February 2, 2001). Gang Violence Claimed Man Who Tried to Change; Crime: The conviction of his killer closes the final chapter in the story of a former Armenian Power leader who was slain in inter-ethnic strife. Los Angeles Times
  25. ^ HONG, PETER Y.; GEE, ELISE (2000-05-24). "Latino Gang Killed Armenian Man, Police Say". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  26. ^ Rodriguez, Luis (2003). Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times, p. 327. Seven Stories Press. ISBN 978-1-58322-564-6.
  27. ^ "Armenian Power Leader Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison for Racketeering, Extortion and Fraud".
  28. ^ Blankstein, Andrew (February 16, 2011). Nearly 100 charged, dozens arrested in operation targeting Armenian organized crime. Los Angeles Times
  29. ^ Staff report (February 16, 2011). Arrests of Armenian Group in Calif. New York Times
  30. ^ "Syria Civil War: Los Angeles Gang Duo Join President Assad".

External links[edit]