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Boys & Girls Club Shut Down After Gang Accused Of Holding Meetings And Selling Drugs There
An El Monte Boys & Girls Club that was meant to be a safe place for children has been forced to close its doors after gang members reportedly used the club to hold meetings of their own and deal drugs.
The organization's board of directors voted last week to shut down the club and all their youth programs to "clear the air," board president Dave Perez told KABC. This comes on the heels of a federal racketeering indictment released last month that claimed that members of El Monte Flores gang, which has ties to the Mexican mafia, were using this Boys & Girls Club as their own stomping grounds, even collecting extortion "taxes" there.
And this isn't a new thing: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been investigating this club for at least two years. The El Monte Boys & Girls Club had to even change their name to the Boys Club of San Gabriel after they lost their charter from the Boys & Girls Club of America in 2012 in the midst of these gang activity allegations.
However, the club's Executive director Clay Hollopeter, who is upset by the closure, says these allegations are not true: “It is just so harmful for all the children who used to come, to the many teams that play soccer here, to the kids that do judo, to the kids who come in and do arts and crafts — all those kids are just locked out,” Hollopeter told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “All of that is gone, all taken away, for no good reason because we are not a hang-out for gangs and never were.”
He said that they're being punished because of the gang activity happening around the Boys & Girls Club, not within it. Hollopeter told KTLA that they lost their charter because the El Monte Police sent 59 police reports to the headquarters of the Boys & Girls Club of America, and the reports barely mentioned the club.
The board said they hope to reopen this club by early next year and want to win back its charter with the Boys & Girls Club of America.