The founder of an activist group that has been a vocal critic of city officials in Cudahy, where federal investigators are engaged in a wide-ranging corruption probe, said Thursday that a man and a woman came to her house and said people wanted her to back off.
Blanca Ramos filed a report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which patrols Cudahy, a city of about 23,000 that sits next to the Los Angeles River.
Sheriff's Capt. Henry M. Romero said the alleged incident occurred about 10:45 a.m. Thursday. Ramos told deputies that she came out of her house after hearing someone call her name. She was met by a man and a woman she had seen in the neighborhood but whose names she didn't know. The pair said they were delivering a message from someone else: If she didn't back down from her activism, "people in the neighborhood would take care of her," Romero said.
The pair made references to a powerful gang in the area. According to Romero, one of them told Ramos, "You are surrounded by 18th Street. There is a white truck always parked in front of your house and other nice cars that are watching you."
Ramos told deputies that although she fears for her life, she will continue her activism.
Ramos founded CAUSA, Cudahy Assn.-Unidos Salimos Adelante, which sprang up last month after the FBI arrested three city officials. Former Mayor David Silva, former Councilman Osvaldo Conde and Angel Perales, the former interim city manager and head of code enforcement, have agreed to plead guilty to bribery and extortion in a case involving the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary who wanted to open a shop in Cudahy. They are expected to enter their pleas next week in federal court.
The plea agreements with Silva and Perales portray a city government where corruption was a way of life, where contractors who wanted to do business paid bribes, where elections were fixed and where drugs were abused in City Hall.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Akrotirianakis said the threats to Ramos could constitute obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Romero said the Sheriff's Department is investigating it as a criminal threat.
"I'm fearful," Ramos told The Times. "I know this is not just a threat. I'm a little bit discouraged."
She told deputies she thought the couple who approached her were homeless and lived on the river.
Romero said a witness saw the pair with Ramos. Though he didn't hear their comments, he told deputies he could identify them.