Tag Archives: LAPD

LAPD Seeking Quick Extradition of FilAm Gang Members

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Although it’s been more than 10 months since their arrest in the Philippines, FilAm brothers Marvin and Pierre Mercado have yet to be extradited to the US to face murder and attempted murder charges.

“It’s been an unusual long habeus corpus hearing,” said Sergeant Walter Teague during a press conference outside the Los Angeles Police Department’s Downtown Bureau. “We have sent over further evidence. I’ve offered to testify. Whatever the Philippine authority need I am 110 percent and the LA police department will provide them. We have provided some more [evidence] and hope it could expedite the process.”

On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and LAPD officials made its first announcement about the two fugitives capture since their arrest in the Philippines last September.

The Mercado brothers had been hiding in the Philippines for the past 11 years.

Teague said that Marvin and Pierre were members of the Asian Boyz gang in the 1990’s. The two brothers are wanted in connection for their roles in a crime spree that claimed the lives of 12 people and other criminal activities including home invasions, robberies, burglaries, assaults and drive-by shootings in the Greater Los Angeles area, according to Teague.

The two then fled to avoid arrest and prosecution for alleged murder, attempted murder and robbery charges in mid-1990.

Marvin was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List since 1997 and featured on America’s Most Wanted.

Last year, Philippine Immigration Authorities nabbed the two brothers in their condominium in Quezon City. They are being held on immigration charges. The FBI later confirmed it was indeed the alleged suspects.

Teague did not elaborate as to how they were apprehended.

“They were identified and arrested,” said Teague.

Teague has followed the Mercado’s trail for the past decade. He was part of the original LAPD Asian Task force along with the FBI that investigated the Asian Boyz gang.

“Right as our investigation was coming into fruition, several members of the gang including the Mercado’s fled the country…everyone was rounded up and brought to trial except the Mercado brothers.”

“That trial was the largest multi-defendant, death penalty case in California history,” he added. “Seven members of the Asian Boyz were convicted and sent to prison. But the Mercado’s escaped justice and remained at large.”

One of the Asian Boyz gang members convicted was another FilAm, David Evangelista. All seven-members were sentenced to life-in-prison.

Teague said that Marvin faces six-counts of murder. His brother, Pierre, faces attempted murder charges. Each faces a possible life sentence.

Teague did not give a timetable as to when the two brothers will be extradited.

“We are still working with authorities,” he said.


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Why Do They Kill Themselves?

by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Commission revealed in a report on March 26 that more LA police commit suicide than die in the line of duty. The study of police psychologists reported that 19 Los Angeles police officers killed themselves between 1998 and 2007, while only seven died in the line of duty. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young adults, after accidents and homicides in the US.

Kevin Jablonski, Chief Psychiatrist for the LAPD, pinned the high suicide rates on the mental anguish that comes from policing dangerous streets.

“When you interact day after day, hour after hour with either the victims of crime or the perpetrators of crime, you start thinking this world is dangerous, this world is violent,” he said. “It’s depressing.”

However the suicide rate among Los Angeles officers has decreased more than 20 percent since 1998, when the department pushed to increase suicide prevention services.  Jablonski said more needs to be done to make sure officers know treatment is available for conditions that lead to suicide, such as depression and alcoholism.

Public teaching and suicide

Sadly, Filipinos are not exempted from the affliction. A few months ago, the city of Baltimore was stunned by the successive suicides of two Filipino public school teachers.

Fe Bolado, 26, and Irenea Conato Apao, 41, died six months apart. On May 2007, Bolado hanged herself with an extension cord after cutting her wrist while Apao died in an apparent overdose of antidepressants.

According to investigations, both women did not leave a note behind to reveal why they felt suicide was the only option. What is certain is that both arrived in this country with expectations for brighter futures and both left the world with broken dreams and broken hearts.

“In the aftermath of the suicides, groups such as the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Philippine Embassy have reached out to the city’s Filipino teachers. School system administrators started doing more to promote the free counseling program that’s offered,” a newspaper reported.

Dr. Benedicto Borja, a Filipino Associate Director of the Psychiatric Residency Training Program at Sheppard Pratt and University of Maryland Medical Center offered to help in counselling.

Seeking mental health care is “a sign of weakness in our culture,” Borja said. “It’s unthinkable. The thinking in the Philippines is, ‘Snap out of it, you’ve got your whole family.’  But Filipinos should learn to overcome their reluctance to reach out for help. We can’t just ignore the fact that two people have lost their lives. We have to, I wouldn’t say, change the culture but I would say, enlighten the culture.”

Filipino pastor Chito Cordero of Word International Ministries says that the pressures of migration are complex and result to feelings of helplessness.

“High expectations and low energy levels equal high stress,” Pastor Chito explained. “Without a support group, the new immigrant’s energy is not being replenished. People are left to themselves with a diminishing sense of energy complicated by fear, loneliness and anxiety. The key is to connect with a church family with whom they can find strength and hope in God. Being among their peers with whom they can pour out their anxieties and express their problems can help them better cope with life. A church community is a place where you can find strength, encouragement, and love. As you feel cared for, feelings of extreme loneliness will be prevented together with the sense of hopelessness that leads to suicidal tendencies.”


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Join the LAPD: Chief Bratton Invites Asian Pacific Islanders

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Police Department Chief William J. Bratton announced that they are recruiting an additional 1,000 new police officers despite budgetary concerns expressed by the City Council.

“The recruitment of more police officers is the number one priority of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa,” Bratton told the Asian Pacific Islander Community Forum held at the Empress Pavilion Restaurant in Chinatown on Tuesday, November 13.

“The recruitment will continue unimpeded, and we expect to have a 9,800 police officers by June or July next year,” Bratton added. The department’s goal is to have a 10,000-strong officer corps.

Bratton, who was recently re-appointed to 5-year tenure, also announced that the LAPD would follow through on programs that were started during his first term. “We will continue to reduce crimes in the city,” he said. “We will get the consent decree implemented, and we will assure that this city has the most robust anti-terrorism entities in the United States.”

“Violent crimes are down dramatically in the city and homicide is in its 35-year low,” Bratton said. “This due to the hard-working men in the LAPD and to your communities.”

“We need more young men and women from your community to work with the department, and we promise you that we will welcome them with open arms,” Bratton said. Presently, only about 8 per cent of LAPD’s force come from Asian Pacific Islander communities, Bratton revealed.

Bratton announced that in 2008, the LAPD would open its 20th police station. “The 20th police station over at Koreatown will allow us to put more officers on patrol in that portion of the city,” Bratton said. Although the perimeters and boundaries of that station are still being mapped out, the 20th station is now under construction and expected to open next year. It will be headed by Captain Mathew Blake of the West Los Angeles Area Station. The LAPD also opened one station in the San Fernando Valley, and the LAPD headquarters in downtown–Parker Station–would reopen soon after a $400 million refurbish.

Chief Bratton also announced that the Police Commission approved the installation of video cameras in all the vehicles of LAPD to give the officers the best equipment to work with. “We are constantly working at improving our training methods, and this is an area where you can help us with.”

In the open forum, business and church leaders in Chinatown asked Bratton if a foot beat could be reinstated in that district citing many crimes go unreported because of cultural reasons and language barriers.

Bratton replied that Chinatown has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. “It is really up to you to work with us so that we can serve you better. We cannot do it alone. We want you to encourage your young men and women to come to us,” Bratton pleaded. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Bratton said.

“If you make this your number one priority, we will make this the safest city in America. That’s our promise, our commitment and our goal,” Bratton said.

Islamic Mapping

LAPD Assistant Chief Michael Downing addressed the controversy that arose with the department’s plan that would map Muslim communities that was announced last week.

“Unfortunately, the media has distorted the plan as an attempt at profiling. It was an unfortunate misuse of a word. We recognize that error, and now we have decided to call it engagement, an outreach effort by which we could determine what kind of services these communities actually need, and whether the department is providing these services or not,” Downing said.

Yun-Sook Kim Navarre, a Joseph Ileto Hate Crimes Prevention Coordinator of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) gave his two-cents worth on the issue.

“There is a need for better representation and dialog for these communities of color, especially those with limited English-speaking abilities. There is a concern that some of these already isolated communities living under the gun may be unlawfully profiled, or that they may have their rights violated,” Navarre said.

“In response to the alleged profiling, I think it is problematic to broadly link a  religion such as Islam with all Muslims– people who come from all countries, all races, and socio-economic backgrounds—with terrorism and with anti-American sentiments,” Navarre added.  “I don’t think that any other religion would have been placed in that same spot; we wouldn’t do that to the Catholic community; we wouldn’t do that to the Baptist community. We don’t want this to turn into an anti-immigrant xenophobia or discrimination based on national origin.” (www.asianjournal.com)

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