Food Truck Extortion Ring Busted in LA


The food truck game is especially competitive in Florida, where the weather permits year-round business. Competition is fierce and only the strong and dynamic survive. In Los Angeles, however, food truck owners have to compete with other businesses as well as gang members.

The LA Times ran a piece this week about a violent extortion racket surrounding food truck operators around Hollywood. This racket has been going on for at least five years, run by members of the notoriously ruthless MS-13 gang (Mara Salvatrucha).

State grand jury records unsealed on Monday revealed that 20 defendants are being charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. All individuals are being held in lieu of bail that ranges from $2 million to $3 million.

The article states that MS-13 was targeting the food trucks that served construction sites, not more popular trucks that attend bazaars and events. Court records state that gang members threatened food truck owners to pay “rent” to MS-13 in order to operate on their turf. “Rent” ranged from $30 to $50 each week, as well as free food.

Last October, federal officials designated MS-13 as a “transnational criminal organization.”

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