Despite years of growth, a wonderful Chinatown cafe and bakery space, and a knack for helping hundreds of former gang members leave the streets, L.A.’s Homeboy Industries is still an embattled organization. On Friday, the LA Times reported that the not-for-profit has been caught up in a gang dragnet meant to curb the influence of the Mexican Mafia across several sections of the city.
Per the indictment, the police crackdown focused on three Northeast LA gangs — Frogtown, The Rascals, and Toonerville — who had merged under the watchful eye of the powerful Mexican Mafia.
Along the way, several defendants admitted to working with Homeboy Industries as a sort of self-help ruse, instead using the benevolent organization to hide some of their dirty deeds. In one instance dating to 2013, co-defendants swapped guns on site, hiding them inside Homeboy Industries t-shirts; in another, ‘tax’ payments for drug sales were handed over in the parking lot.
Homeboy Industries was quick to respond to the allegations, telling the Times that they "understand that while we successfully help a majority of our clients, a small percentage attempt, but fail, to make that transformation." In regards to specific on-site criminal activity, management says that they are saddened by the indictment's findings and plan to investigate. Most importantly, the criminal allegations have no bearing on the safety of the Chinatown cafe or anyone hoping to experience Homeboy Industries for themselves.
Further investigation is ongoing.