Central District of California | Woodland Hills man arrested in federal case alleging he extorted ‘protection’ money from Koreatown businesses

THE ANGELS – Authorities arrested a Woodland Hills man this morning on federal charges alleging he was extorting “protection” money from Koreatown businesses, sometimes using acts of violence against people who refused to pay.

Daekun Cho, 38, was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and Los Angeles Police Department officers pursuant to a federal criminal complaint filed last week. The complaint accuses Cho of interfering with commerce through threats or violence. Cho is expected to make his opening appearance this afternoon in the United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

The federal investigation into this case began about a year ago and found that Cho was demanding protection money from karaoke businesses in Koreatown, as well as the “doumi” (or hostesses) employed by patrons of the karaoke establishments.

“In furtherance of his extortion scheme, Cho committed shootings, carjacking, kidnapping, and other acts of physical violence,” according to the complaint affidavit. “Cho made explicit threatening statements to doumi drivers and karaoke bar owners to pay a monthly fee.”

The affidavit describes the physical attacks of four victims over the past year and tells of another victim who was threatened. The first victim discussed in the affidavit was a doumi driver, who, after refusing to pay protection money after a price increase, was struck with a baseball bat, allegedly by Cho and another individual, on 8 May 2021. The victim suffered a broken arm and multiple lacerations, the affidavit says.

In another incident on August 5, 2022, at a karaoke bar, Cho demanded that a doumi driver leave the venue, and as the driver and two doumis drove away, they heard gunshots and one of the doumis sustained a gunshot wound to the head. head. neck, according to the affidavit, which notes that this incident is still under investigation by the LAPD.

The fifth victim, who reported that he had been paying Cho for approximately four years, told investigators that he had decided to stop paying Cho before Cho allegedly assaulted him and stole approximately $1,000 on January 24. The affidavit details how that victim, working with police, made an exorbitant payment of $500 to Cho on February 16.

A complaint contains allegations that a defendant committed a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The charge of interfering with commerce by threat or violence carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

HSI and LAPD are investigating this matter.

Assistant US Attorney Jena MacCabe of the Violent and Organized Crime Section is prosecuting this case.