Big news today for both the Armenian Power and Asian Boyz gangs in L.A.
For AP, 74 accused members were charged with a debit-card scam said to be worth $20 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A. For the Asian Boyz, its former leader, Marvin Mercado, was convicted of eight murders and 10 counts of attempted murder.
Now, the real issue is, which gang scares white, suburban L.A. more? We break it down:
Scary: They're big, buff Armenian dudes who aren't even afraid of Mexicans. Mexicans rule the streets of California. We're Mexican, and Mexicans scare us.
Not-so-scary: The charges Wednesday as part of "Operation Power Outage" accuse the purported members of pulling the scam at 99¢ Only Stores, meaning they were allegedly robbing grandma one can of soup at a time. Gangsta (with a discount)!
Scary: The Armenian Power set is known to roll with heavy firepower, including automatic rifles.
Not-so-scary: The accusations claim that AP members geeked out by installing sophisticated card skimmers at the stores to get "data" that could lead them to dip into victims checking accounts, but only through savvy knowledge of banking that would make even Ben Bernanke call his I.T. guy.
Scary: The name Armenian Power conjures up visions of an Army of gangsters.
Not-so-scary: Members are known to drive BMWs, which conjures up images of '80s preppies in polo shirts and v-neck sweaters
Scary: Thirty-seven-year-old Marvin Mercado was convicted of coldly murdering eight people.
Not-so-scary: We kid you not this gang has the highest grade point average of any criminal enterprise out there. (No, we do kid).
Scary: Mercado was involved in the ambush homicides of two rival Latino gang members, Armando Estrada and Miguel Limon, in Van Nuys in the spring of 1995.
Not-so-scary: Later that decade the Asian Boyz members were actually responsible for the most successful street clean-up and community fundraiser in Van Nuys history. (Again, we joke. Send emails to our editor).
Scary: Authorities have said Asian gangs like the Boyz could be behind "grow houses" in San Gabriel Valley neighborhoods that churn out pounds of high-grade pot.
Not-so-scary: Cannabis is practically legal in California. This barely rates above cheating on your college exam as a crime.
Scary: Mercado was involved in an attack on three victims were mistaken for rival Taiwanese gang members; they were followed in the car they were riding in by three carloads of Asian Boyz in 1995.
Not-so-scary: The Boyz's rides are often underpowered Acura Integras with loud mufflers, a good amount of bondo, and ridiculous "shopping cart" spoilers on the hatches. Because when you're straining to go 85 you really need a lot of downforce. These cars come in handy, though, because as you're laughing and pointing, with your guard down, they get ya! (Again, kidding. That's firstname.lastname@example.org).
So what have we learned today about some of L.A.'s more notorious gangs? Really, the only conclusion is that any ethnicity, even ones with "model minority" stereotypes, can be made to scare the bejesus out of white, suburban SoCal with deft use of the English language:
1) Add Power to the end of your ethnic group: Polish ... Power! See. Mongolian ... Power. Ouch. Step aside.
2) Add Boyz to the end of your ethnic group. Again: Argentinian ... Boyz. Welsh Boyz. New Guinean Boyz. See. Too tough.