A California narcotics detective tipped off members of the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime groups to impending raids by federal officials – and even helped a top target evade arrest, authorities said Tuesday.
John Saro Balian, a 45-year-old veteran officer with the Glendale Police Department, is accused of lying to federal officials about his ties to crime groups in California. He was taken into custody without incident at his home Tuesday and is facing up to five years in federal prison, Fox News reports.
“Mr. Balian moved in criminal circles and operated as though he was above the law by repeatedly lying to hide his criminal activity,” Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times. “His alleged actions impeded legitimate investigations into organized violent crime and consequently presented a threat to public safety.”
According to the complaint, Balian was interviewed several times by federal agents last year where he repeatedly made false statements and misrepresentations about his alleged links to local criminal figures, including Jose Loza, a Mexican Mafia member and “shot-caller” for the Canta Ranas street gang.