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Armenians work with U.S.

Without treaty, country still helps bring home criminals

By Alex Dobuzinskis, Staff Writer

GLENDALE — Armenian officials are working with local law enforcement agencies to fight organized crime rings that victimize residents in the Southland and Armenia, officials said Wednesday.
The cooperative effort was discussed at the Glendale Police Department, where John Evans, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, met with local police officials.

“It’s the flip side really of globalization. So much of what happens in the world today knows no international boundaries, and the same can be said of crime today,” Evans said.

Of particular concern are the crimes of money laundering, smuggling and immigration fraud, officials said.

“There’s been significant amounts of money that have flown back and forth that we’re concerned with,” said Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams.

As many as 500 criminals are believed to be associated with Armenian organized crime gangs in the Los Angeles area, said Sgt. Steve Davey of the Glendale Police Department’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force.

Adams said his department has sent detectives to Armenia to teach in police academies there.

And the contacts developed with Armenian police have led to the apprehension of suspects, he said.

Within the past year, three fugitives have been brought back to Los Angeles from Armenia to face murder or attempted murder charges stemming from incidents in the east San Fernando Valley, officials said.

One of the suspects, a former truck driver from Burbank, was listed as one of the FBI’s most wanted. Shahen Keshishian was arrested by Armenian authorities in November and handed over to U.S. officials. He is charged with murdering a Canoga Park man during a road-rage incident in Universal City in 2000.

Armenia does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. But that has not prevented authorities there from helping local law enforcement agencies.

“When there is a will to be cooperative, more things are possible than when there is the opposite,” Evans said, adding that officials hope to negotiate an extradition treaty with Armenia, which does not have the death penalty.

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