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Santa Monica Code Enforcement Officers Plea for Help as ‘Murcia Family Gang’ Protect Up to 50 Street Vendors Around Pier

UPDATE: We encourage readers to view Santa Monica Observer's About Us page, which acknowledges a strong conservative stance in addition to a past lawsuit against its publisher by the City of Santa Monica for violations of California's false advertising laws. In addition, a spokesperson for the City of Santa Monica tells us "The Santa Monica Police Department has no information indicating there is organized gang activity related to vending on the Santa Monica Pier. "

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Santa Monica Pier’s wholesome postcard image is being shattered by a new report alleging the presence of an unauthorized vendor network organized and regulated by a local street gang.

According to SM Observed, the so-called “Murcia Family gang” oversees 30 to 50 pushcarts that arrive daily at the historic ocean-side attraction to sell everything from hot dogs to trinkets, while the gang wards off any vendors who come in from outside their sphere of influence.

These vendors are said to be unlicensed, operating along the Pier, the surrounding Boardwalk, and the green cliff-side expanse known as Palisades Park without a California Seller’s Permit or the additional L.A. County Health Permit required for food vendors, which cost up to $1,500 per month.

Instead, the vendors are said to pay operation and protection fees to the Murcia Family under threat of violence, in what appears to be a classic racketeering conspiracy, the bread-and-butter of any upstart organized crime clique.

The article relates two recent incidents that helped to publicly expose the gang’s machinations: A September fight between toy vendors in which an umbrella was used as a weapon to slash someone’s neck and a six-person altercation this month, on the afternoon of April 11, involving vendors and others, which the Santa Monica Police did not easily bring to an end.

Several men and women were cited and released, despite some degree of difficulty. MSN confirms the arrest of one Marco Murcia on suspicion of delaying/resisting arrest, and Teresa Murcia, on suspicion of assault and battery, among two others, in the incident.

The story traces its evidence of the conspiracy to local Code Enforcement officers, who are said to be too afraid of the Murcia family to set foot on the pier, citing intimidation, threats, and assaults at the hands of a gang also allegedly involved in human and sex trafficking.

An open letter from Code Enforcement officers to the Santa Monica City Council is quoted as saying:

"Today the Pier, and its surrounding areas, are under the control of the Murcia crime family. We have been assaulted many times. Our lives, and our families' lives, have been threatened by members of the Murcia family."

The threats include brandishing guns from their waistbands, throwing pepper in officers’ faces, and threatening their family members with specific knowledge of their whereabouts.

Police are said to be kicking this particular can back at the Code Enforcement officers, saying the issue of monitoring illegal vendor carts on the Pier isn’t really their responsibility. Neither is the fire department making inspections on the Pier, despite the potential for, say, a hot dog cart’s leaking propane tank burning the whole wooden structure to cinders.

Despite the statement from Code Enforcement officers, the article remains fairly vague on the sources behind its explosive information. Author Corva Corvax appears to have covered other “Opinion” stories on BLM, Ethnic Studies, and George Gasçon with a conservative slant, while the Pier article draws comments that make clear a distaste for SB 946, which voters approved to allow for the decriminalization of street vending, as well as rent control.

No other traces of the Murcia Family exist online, and Corvax’s story, so far, seems to be the only one detailing the connections between this organized crime outfit and a mushrooming scene of non-permitted vendors on the Pier.

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