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A Salt Lake County street gang suspected of dealing drugs from auto dealerships planned to kidnap and torture a police officer, according to a search warrant.
The gang calls itself the Iraqi Mafia Gangsters. The detective investigating the case, Michael Fullwood, of the West Jordan Police Department, said the predominant members are refugees from Iraq who came to the United States after the Persian Gulf War, but the gang has members from other countries and ethnicities.
"The majority of these guys we're dealing with are early 20s, mid-20s, maybe late teens," Fullwood said in an interview Thursday. "But they essentially grew up in America."
The returned search warrant filed Wednesday in state court in Salt Lake City shows police are investigating the Iraqi Mafia for drug dealing and insurance fraud. Much of the information provided to police came from members of Salt Lake County's Iraqi community "who are completely displeased with the actions of these families who are involved in these organizations," Fullwood said. But the most serious allegation is discussed in just one paragraph of the search warrant petition. It says detectives learned of a plot by Iraqi Mafia members to "kidnap, torture, and kill a Salt Lake City police officer."
Fullwood said he did not know how serious Iraqi Mafia was about carrying out the plan.
"We were tipped off about it before it got any traction and got rolling," Fullwood said.
The search warrant states the plot was primarily the plan of gang member Ahmed Al-Rekabi. His 19-year-old brother, Hussein Al-Rekabi, had opened fire into a crowd at a downtown nightclub in January 2009 while a group of angry relatives shouted death threats at officers. Hussein Al-Rekabi ignored a command from officers to stop and was shot and killed. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined the officer was justified in the shooting.
The search warrant states Iraqi Mafia members threatened Salt Lake City officers on several occasions. Gang detectives conducted surveillance this year on Alan Auto, an automotive repair business at 4340 S. State St., in Murray, and saw what they say was drug dealing, the search warrant states.
In the past, Iraqi Mafia members have been convicted on drug and aggravated robbery charges. One man, believed to have assisted the gang, was charged with assault against a police officer in February. The charge was later dismissed.
According to the search warrant, an informant told police Al-Rekabi said he believed officers had been watching and harassing him and his friends this year. Al-Rekabi told the informant he had access to firearms, including an AK-47.
Al-Rekabi pleaded guilty in 2004 to threatening to use a dangerous weapon in a fight, court documents state.
Fullwood said a recent search of a house found large amounts of Oxycontin and marijuana. At Al-Rekabi's home, police found two handguns and a container with cocaine residue, Fullwood said.
An informant also told detectives that Al-Rekabi liked to brag about making insurance companies foot the bill for "upgrades" to his car, the search warrant states. Al-Rekabi told the informant that he would give his car keys to another member of the Iraqi Mafia who would damage the car then call police to report a hit and run, so an insurance claim could be filed without anybody being cited for the damage.
Fullwood said Al-Rekabi is the only person in custody, though he expects charges against a second person soon. Fullwood expects more arrests of Iraqi Mafia members.
"It is still an active investigation," Fullwood said.