Multi-agency task forces arrested 81 of 102 indicted members of the Armenian Power gang in three cities on wide-ranging charges involving firearms, health-care fraud, extortion, marriage fraud and other crimes, the FBI announced.
Members of the gang were arrested in Denver, Los Angeles and Miami. The FBI's Miami field office unsealed three indictments against 13 individuals, charging them with a variety of crimes, including extortion conspiracy, credit card fraud, money laundering, smuggling of firearms, marriage fraud, and health-care fraud.
"IRS special agents followed the money trail through a series of fraudulent credit card transactions disguised to defraud financial institutions," according to Daniel W. Auer, special agent in charge with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.
Other members and associates of Armenian Power (AP), an international organized crime group based in Los Angeles, were also arrested today in the Los Angeles area and Denver in related actions.
According to court documents, several of the defendants maintain associations with members and associates of AP, as well as with a "thief-in-law" who was arrested in the Southern District of New York in October.
According to court documents, Aram Khranyan, 41, directed and supervised the organized criminal group. Court documents further allege that Khranyan had meetings with a "thief-in-law" in Miami and Las Vegas. The term "thief-in-law" refers to a member of a select group of high-level criminal figures from Russia and the former Soviet Union who receive tribute from other criminals, offer protection, and use a recognized position of authority to resolve disputes among criminals.
In this investigation, ICE HSI special agents determined that Aram Khranyan entered in a false marriage to obtain permanent legal status in the United States in an attempt to further his criminal enterprise operations, according to Anthony V. Mangione, ICE Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge in Miami.
"Time after time, we see criminal organizations exploit the vulnerabilities in the immigration system," according to Mangione. "ICE will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners in disrupting these criminal organizations who pose a threat to national security and public safety and to preserve the integrity of the immigration process."
The Sunny Isles Beach (Fla.) Police Department provided support for the investigation, according to Chief Fred Maas.
In related action in Los Angeles, two indictments charge 88 defendants with a wide variety of violent and fraud-related crimes. The alleged crimes include kidnapping, extortion, assault, witness intimidation, bank fraud, credit card fraud, and drug distribution.
Finally, in an indictment unsealed today in Denver, another defendant was charged with conspiring with others to make false statements on credit and loan applications. The indictment charges that the defendant, acting under the control of a transnational criminal group, established a shell company and then used that shell company to apply for business and personal credit cards, car loans and leases, consumer loans, and a home equity loan.