Glendale: Police seek alleged gang boss

Glendale News Press
Aug 10 2004

Police seek alleged gang boss

Authorities say Glendale resident is leader of burglary ring for
organized crime syndicate.

By Jackson Bell, News-Press

GLENDALE – Police are asking for the public’s help finding a Glendale
man who investigators say is the alleged ringleader of a
Russian-Armenian organized crime syndicate that has been connected to
a string of burglaries of jewelry store and pawn-shops throughout Los
Angeles County.

Ara Karapetian, 42, of Glendale, is wanted on a $2-million arrest
warrant for his role in a pawn-shop burglary June 13 in Van Nuys,
said Rick Lutz, a Sheriff’s Department detective working out of the
Crescenta Valley Station.

Karapetian, who lives in the 3300 block of Barnes Circle near Oakmont
County Club, also has homes in Las Vegas, Armenia and the United Arab
Emirates, authorities said. He owns two clothing stores and a
money-transfer business that allows local Armenians to send money to
relatives in their home country, authorities said.

Police have been in contact with Karapetian through his attorney, but
he has refused to turn himself in, Lutz said.

“Through his attorney, we have pleaded for him to turn himself in,”
Lutz said. “But so far he has refused to do so.”

In early June, surveillance cameras recorded the crew allegedly
attempting to take a safe from a jewelry store in La Crescenta,
police said. After a multi-agency investigation, five men were
arrested June 13 for allegedly trying to steal another safe from a
Van Nuys pawn shop, Lutz said, adding that Karapetian left behind his
driver’s license.

The men arrested are Suren Melkonyan, 46, of Glendale; Ashot Avoyan,
42, of Hollywood; Andranik Grigoryan, 29, of Van Nuys; Arsak
Grigoryan, 36, of North Hollywood; and John Nazarian, 32, of
Hollywood, authorities said.

Their preliminary hearing Monday in Los Angeles Criminal Court was
postponed to Sept. 9, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Ronald Goudy. They are
all being held in Los Angeles County Jail.

“They’ve been involved in welfare fraud, selling untaxed cigarettes,
tax evasion, burglary of jewelry stores – they were involved in many
things,” Goudy said. “We’ve easily recovered over a million dollars
[in property].”

Karapetian’s adult son, Ghor Karapetian, has also been arrested on
suspicion of burglary, said Lutz, who was unable to give more

Ara Karapetian is described as white with brown hair and brown eyes.
He is 5 feet 9 and weighs 200 pounds. Anyone with information is
asked to contact Lutz at 236-4015.