The Los Angeles Police Department arrested 20-year-old Erick Romero Quintana who allegedly organized street takeovers throughout the city with his smartphone and laptop.
Despite Quintana having never owned a car, he’s suspected of organizing them from the comfort of his bedroom, bringing thousands to each event in what police call organized crime.
According to the LAPD, Quintana has over 70,000 social media followers.
“This guy is a big deal,” Sergeant Manny Sanchez of the LAPD Street Racing Task Force said. “These guys are a major part of the organization…they organize…they organize who, what, why, where.”
In addition to chaos on the streets, the takeovers resulted in smash-and-grabs, car thefts and other violent crimes.
Police say about 30% of people involved in the takeovers are part of the crime operation that often includes sex trafficking and even murder.
Officers often target drivers doing donuts and stunts — as well as the crowd watching. But much like Quintana, if the offense does not involve direct connections to crimes other than the takeover, they are often cited and released.
“There is no point in arresting someone if they are going to be released on no bail,” said Cindi Enamorado whose brother was killed nearly a year ago by a driver attempting to flee a street takeover.
Departments like the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office are seizing and holding cars involved in takeovers for up to months at a time.
“Those vehicles will be held until their court cases have been settled by the District Attorney’s Office…they will not be released any time soon,” San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow said in a message posted to Instagram.
In Los Angeles, seized cars can be retrieved within 30 days.
“There needs to be changes in legislation where we can start seizing vehicles and auctioning them off,” said Enamorado.
Enamorado and the LAPD are working with legislators to do just that — hoping it will be a strong deterrent not just for the drivers but everyone involved.
Source: NBC Los Angeles