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Search Warrants Served on Financial Firms in ZZZZ Best Case

October 08, 1987|RONALD L. SOBLE | Times Staff Writer

Financial institutions from San Diego to Ventura were served with search warrants Wednesday as police continued an investigation into what they have described as a massive Southern California money laundering and narcotics operation with ties to organized crime.

A brief announcement by the Los Angeles Police Department said that 22 banks and three residences were served with the warrants. Some savings and loan associations also were among the 22 financial institutions, police said.

No one was arrested and no problems were encountered in serving the warrants, Police Department spokesman Lt. Dan Cooke said.

None of the institutions or residences was identified.

Last July, Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates announced an initial series of searches and identified the targets of the investigation as a group of business and individuals including Barry Minkow, the 21-year-old founder of the Reseda-based ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning firm.

Since then, investigators from the LAPD's Organized Crime and Intelligence Division have been sifting through boxes of records seized in those raids. No arrests have been made and none are expected before November, investigators have said.

As was the case with the earlier searches, all of Wednesday's warrants were ordered sealed by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to keep police information about the investigation secret.

The serving of the latest warrants was long expected by officials of the affected institutions, who were previously interviewed by detectives from the organized crime unit.

Wednesday's action--which, according to police sources, demanded information from 61 separate financial accounts--was seen as a signal that the investigation was entering its final phases before arrest warrants are issued.

Although all of Wednesday's searches were in California, the money laundering investigation has taken investigators to several Las Vegas casinos and to the East Coast for conferences with police organized crime experts there.

At a July news conference, Gates alleged that ZZZZ Best and other California businesses, including Splash, a popular Malibu restaurant, were used by "several organized crime families working together or at least utilizing one system" to launder some of their profits.

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