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L.A. Sheriff's Asian Gang Unit Nabs Korean-American Home Invaders

February 04, 2011  | 


Young Woo Kim (pictured) and Kyung Hwan Choi have been identified as the masterminds behind a Southern California home invasion robbery in November. Photo courtesy of LASD.

Six Korean-American men who organized a brutal attack on a middle-aged Korean couple were apprehended by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Asian Gang Team.

Three of the suspects were apprehended in Las Vegas on Jan. 21 as they prepared to rob what they thought was a drug stash house in Las Vegas. The other suspcets were taken into custody between Jan. 24 and Wednesday.

On Nov. 2, two masked men were waiting for the two victims when they arrived at their Diamond Bar home after work. The victims' hands were bound with zip ties, and a TASER stun gun was used on the male victim numerous times. The suspects then ransacked the home, looking for cash.

"While the suspects were burglarizing the home, the female victim was able to free herself during this traumatic ordeal," according to Sgt. Steve Kim of the LASD Asian gang unit. "She escaped by jumping off the second floor balcony of the home, then climbing over a wall into her neighbor's house where she called for help."

After realizing one of the victims had escaped, and not finding any cash, the suspects grabbed several pieces of jewelry and fled through the front door of the house into an awaiting get-away vehicle.

During the investigation, LASD detectives learned that one of the masked suspects was a Black male who spoke fluent Korean.

In late January, LASD Asian gang investigators became aware of a month-long FBI undercover sting in partnership with Las Vegas Metro PD. That sting had resulted in the arrest of five members of a Korean organized crime group from Los Angeles, as they allegedly prepared to rob what they believed was a drug stash house in Las Vegas.

As a result, LASD Asian gang investigators headed to Las Vegas to continue their investigation.

When inteviewed by sheriff's Asian gang team detectives in Las Vegas, three of the five Korean-American suspects — David Chon, 28, James Han, 28, and Rene Hypolite, 26 — implicated themselves in the Diamond Bar home invasion robbery.

Hypolite, whose parents are African-American and Korean, spoke Korean very well, and Han was identified as the group leader.

During the investigation, three additional suspects were identified as having been involved in the Diamond Bar home invasion robbery.  One as the driver of the get-away car, and two as the masterminds of the robbery. One by one, the sheriff's Asian Gang Team detectives tracked them down.

On Jan. 24, Andrew Kim, 26, of Los Angeles, was identified as the driver of the get-away car. He was tracked down and arrested by sheriff's investigators at his home in Los Angeles.

On Jan. 26, Young Woo Kim, 39, of Los Angeles, was arrested by investigators at a business parking lot in West Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, Kyung Hwan Choi, 38, of Los Angeles surrendered to sheriff's investigators at a Pomona courthouse. He was accompanied by his attorney.

Young Woo Kim and Kyung Hwan Choi were identified as the masterminds of the robbery. Andrew Kim was released on bail. Young Woo Kim and Kyung Hwan Choi remain in custody on $2 million bail. Meanwhile, David Chon, James Han, and Rene Hypolite remain in custody in Las Vegas.

Home invasion robberies orchestrated by Asian gangs peaked in the 1990s, but have since subsided somewhat because many of those organizers were convicted and given 25-year jail terms, Kim tells POLICE Magazine.

Related:

Home Invasion Robberies

Tags: Home Invasions, Asian Gangs, L.A. County Sheriff, Las Vegas Metro PD, Gang Prosecution


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