El Monte Boys & Girls Club shutters doors amid gang activity allegations
Q McCray and Greg Lee (KABC) | September 01, 2014
EL MONTE, Calif. — The El Monte Boys & Girls Club has shuttered its doors after allegations gang members with ties to the Mexican Mafia held meetings and sold drugs at the community center.
Executive director Clay Hollopeter confirmed the board voted last week to close the facility to the public and end all of its on-site youth programs. He denied the allegations of gang affiliation and said the club was being unfairly punished.
“(The kids) can’t do their homework now in the computer room, they can’t play soccer,” Hollopeter said. “For many of them, this was their home away from home.”
A federal racketeering indictment released last month alleges at least 41 members of gang El Monte Flores used the club to meet, sell drugs and collect extortion “taxes.” El Monte Flores members were reported to be linked to the Mexican Mafia.
The club has been under investigation for at least two years. In 2012, it lost its charter after Drug Enforcement Administration agents notified the Boy & Girls Clubs of America about the alleged gang activity.
As a result, the El Monte facility changed its name to the Boys Club of San Gabriel.
Hollopeter says the club is being punished for activity that happens around their property, not in it. In fact, the club’s managers blame the El Monte Police Department. A sign on the door says they were forced to close because the police department resents the work.
“Although the city does not have formal jurisdiction over the club, we are working closely with the club’s leadership to address the issues raised and to help guide their future activities to ensure they are appropriate for their organizations mission and the surrounding community,” the El Monte Police Department said in a statement to Eyewitness News.