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Former Taco Madness ‘Best in Show’ Winner Tacos Cuernavaca Robbed at Gunpoint in East L.A.

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]t was a slow, but normal Wednesday night for Osvaldo Martinez, one of the taqueros of Tacos Cuernavaca, a family operated taco truck parked on Whittier Blvd. late nights in East Los Angeles—until he and his nephew, who is also an employee, began packing up early Thursday morning.

As they were cleaning up around 2 a.m. last Thursday, three people showed up to the taco truck with their faces covered, wearing dark sweatshirts and held Martinez and his nephew at gunpoint. One person climbed into the truck where Martinez was and held a gun to his stomach. The thief began cursing and threatening him in Spanish, he told L.A. TACO. The thieves wanted money and they eventually got away with roughly $1,000, leaving Martinez and his nephew unharmed.

The former Taco Madness “Best in Show” winners are the latest street vendors to be robbed at gunpoint. ABC 7 reports that hours before the incident, a similar crime happened not so far away.

In March, a horrible attack in South L.A. that left a street vendor in the hospital with serious injuries was caught on camera. Street vendors, especially those working after dark, are vulnerable to attacks and robberies because their business is to work out in the open without security.  

RELATED: Video Captured Robbery Attack that Left Oaxacan Street Vendor Badly Beaten

The incident marks the fourth time in 10 years Tacos Cuernavaca are robbed. Martinez thought about fighting back during the assault, but he thought about his mom and young son he has to look after. He also had a surgery later that day related to a heart attack he had last November in which he had to be revived.

"At that moment, you’re just praying to God and hope it all goes by fast."

“I had to do the smartest thing and that was giving them the money,” Martinez said. “It wasn’t worth dying again for that amount of money.”

The taco truck used to have surveillance cameras, but they no longer work. When asked if he’s scared to work late at night, Martinez said it’s something he has to do, but he does get nervous.

“My job is to provide a service to people, but you don’t know what to think. A lot of people come and sometimes they talk to you nicely, sometimes they don’t, but it’s part of the job to serve people who come late at night,” he said. “The nerves don’t go away.”

RELATED: Street Vendor Gets a Taste of Justice ~ The Case of Humberto Yauli

Overall, Martinez loves his job and wishes thieves would stop scaring people who are just trying to work.“At that moment, you’re just praying to God and hope it all goes by fast,” he said.

Of the experience, Martinez said, “I felt like God gave me another chance.”

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