A Woodland Hills man was arrested Thursday on federal charges alleging he was extorting protection money from Koreatown businesses, sometimes using violence against those who refused to pay.
Daekun Cho, 38, was arrested by special agents from Homeland Security Investigations and officers from the Los Angeles Police Department pursuant to a federal criminal complaint filed last week. The complaint charges Cho with interference with commerce by threats or violence. He is expected to make his initial appearance Thursday in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.
The investigation allegedly found that Cho was demanding protection money from karaoke businesses in Koreatown, as well as from “doumi” or hostesses employed by patrons of the karaoke establishments.
“To further his extortion scheme, Cho committed shootings, a carjacking, a kidnapping and other acts of physical violence,” according to the complaint affidavit. “Cho made explicit threatening statements to the doumi drivers and karaoke bar owners to get them to pay a monthly fee.”
The affidavit describes attacks of four victims over the past year and discusses another victim who was threatened. The first victim discussed in the affidavit was a doumi driver, who, after refusing to pay the protection money following a price increase, was subject to a baseball bat beating, allegedly by Cho and another individual, on May 8, 2021. The victim suffered a broken arm and multiple lacerations, the affidavit states.
In another incident at a karaoke bar last August, Cho demanded that a doumi driver leave the location, and, as the driver and two doumis were driving away, they heard gunshots and one of the doumis suffered a gunshot wound to the neck, according to the affidavit, which notes the incident remains under investigation by the LAPD.
The fifth victim, who reported he had been paying Cho for four years, told investigators that he had decided to stop paying Cho before Cho allegedly assaulted him and stole $1,000 from him. The affidavit details how that victim, working with law enforcement, made an extortionate $500 payment to Cho last month.
The charge of interference with commerce by threats or violence carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.