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Feds investigate California narcotics cop for alleged ties to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime

June 14, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds investigate California narcotics cop for alleged ties to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime

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Feds investigate California narcotics cop John Saro Balian for alleged ties to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime

A veteran narcotics officer in California who was taken into custody in May for his purported ties with the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime is now facing further charges after federal prosecutors filed one count each of soliciting a bribe, obstructing justice by assisting a contact to avoid arrest, and providing false statements to authorities.

The Los Angeles Times reported the new charges, which could be an indication that a plea deal is being negotiated.

John Saro Balian, 45, a veteran officer and a former spokesperson for the Glendale Police Department, became a person of interest by the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, which was investigating associations between the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized criminal groups.

He was arrested at his residence on May 15th. Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said “Balian moved in criminal circles and operated as though he was above the law by lying to hide his activity,” and also stated “His actions impeded legitimate investigations into organized crime and presented a threat to public safety.”

John Saro Balian pictured above being sworn (Glendale Police) 

According to court documents, Bailian requested a period to negotiate a plea deal. It is not clear if Balian is cooperating with prosecutors to build cases against other suspects.

A federal judge required Balian to be permanently detained, referring to him as a flight risk and a danger because of his ties to criminals, participation in extortion, and witness intimidation. He is currently in protective custody.

During the probe, three informants provided police with information about purported interactions with the detective.

The affidavit revealed that Balian offered a tip about a gang bust, permitting a top target in a federal racketeering case to escape before agents came. In another incident, an informant said that Balian gave him locations of marijuana grow and stash houses and told him to “hit them” before police could carry out search warrants.

Balian also gave the informant names of people to extort and communicated using “burners,” phone they used only with each other for no more than a month.

A second informant who said he had known Balian since childhood, told police that someone broke into his office last year and robbed a significant amount of property. The informant claimed that Balian agreed to track down the person responsible for $10,000, partially paid up front.

When confronted by agents in four interviews over the past year, Balian lied about his links to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized criminal group in Southern California.

Investigators managed to confirm some of the informants’ stories with phone records, police reports, and interviews.

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