A club meant to be a safe place for boys and girls to play in El Monte was closed on Monday in response to allegations that it had become a hangout for a street gang with ties to the Mexican Mafia.
The club, which is located at 2740 Mountain View Road (map), had been affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for several years, but lost its charter in 2012 after DEA agents contacted the organization with concerns about the facility, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
Then in July, 41 alleged members of the El Monte Flores gang were indicted on a range of murder, robbery, drug trafficking and other violations.
The indictment claimed the club was used by the gang members — who allegedly have ties to the Mexican Mafia — to sell drugs conduct other gang business.
The allegations prompted El Monte city leaders to close the club and cease all of its on-site youth programs, board president Dave Perez told the Tribune.
“The board just thought, let’s clear the air, let’s close down for a little while,” Perez told the newspaper.
But the club’s program director Clay Holopeter said the facility has been showing young people a way out of gang activity for 50 years.
“It makes no sense to me why you would close when we’re serving so many little kids, so many good kids,” Holopeter said.
Holopeter blames 59 El Monte police reports that were sent to the national club headquarters, which he said barely mentions the Boys & Girls Club, for the loss of its charter.
As for the future of the club, Perez said board members hope the club will open again.
“We definitely want to open again… hopefully by the first of the year,” Perez told the Tribune.