By Hillary Dixler | Eater.com
The food truck industry has its very serious dangers, but hopefully food truck operators in Hollywood can rest a bit easier knowing that 20 alleged gang members are under arrest for extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. Los Angeles Daily News reports the individuals under arrest stand accused of “shaking down owners and operators over a five-year period beginning in July 2007. They demanded ‘rent’ ranging from $30 to $100 a week to operate trucks parked in Hollywood.” The indictment marks the conclusion of the LAPD’s “Protecting the Dream” investigation.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the targets of the alleged extortion were food trucks “serving blue collar workers at construction sites.” The defendants are reputed to be members of the MS-13 gang, which has been designated by the federal government as a “transnational criminal organization.” The arraignment took place yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court, and all defendants pleaded not guilty.