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Victims Held Up in Homes : 2 Face Charges in Robberies of Asians

October 16, 1987|MICHAEL CONNELLY | Times Staff Writer

Two Vietnamese men will be arraigned today on multiple armed-robbery charges stemming from an investigation into several robberies at Asian homes in the San Fernando Valley in recent months, officials said.

Tin Duc Nguyen, 21, will face eight counts of armed robbery, and Long Thanh Tham, 20, will be charged with 12 counts in Van Nuys Superior Court, said a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Both men were arrested Thursday and held at Van Nuys Jail.

Officials released few details about the suspects and stopped short of identifying them as members of a Vietnamese gang.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michelle Rosenblatt did acknowledge that the arrests came out of an investigation into six suspected Vietnamese gang members who were arrested in Chatsworth last week, reportedly after threatening a Van Nuys man's life. The men were released when the victim refused to cooperate with police.

Officials declined to say whether either of the men was among the six arrested in Chatsworth. Rosenblatt did say the investigation is continuing and may include more arrests.

She said charges against Nguyen and Tham stem from three residential robberies in the Valley within the last two months.

"The charges come from three different episodes involving multiple victims," she said. "These people were in their homes and were tied up, robbed and threatened with firearms." She said some of the victims received minor injuries in the robberies.

In recent weeks, police have reported that roving bands of Vietnamese youths have been preying on Southeast Asians living in the Valley and other parts of Los Angeles. The youths usually force their way into the homes of people they know have cash and other valuables. By September the problem had become so pronounced that police warned Southeast Asians not to open their doors to strangers.

On Oct. 5, police said, six suspected members of the Viet Ching gang forced their way into the Van Nuys home of a Laotian man and threatened to kill him if he identified members of the gang in a recent robbery of his uncle. Six men believed to be the assailants were later spotted by police and followed to a sushi restaurant in Chatsworth. The men were arrested after a siege in which police used tear gas.

However, three days later, the six were released from jail when the man they threatened refused to cooperate in their prosecution. Without his help, prosecutors said, there was not enough evidence to proceed with the case. Officials said at the time that the six suspects could be arrested on other charges relating to the incident.

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