Mercado Latino Increases Security After Deadly Shooting

Swap Meet Adds More Guards and Surveillance Cameras

Mercado Latino has added more armed security guards and surveillance cameras after merchants last month demanded increased protection.

Last month merchants demanded more armed security and functioning cameras. Wednesday, they say they got it.

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  • "The protection is excellent. There's a lot of security during the day and night, so I feel safe," said merchant Roberto Payares.

    It's that feeling of safety that merchants have desperately sought since last month's shooting in which sheriff's detectives said Jesus Aragon, Jose Torres and Juan Vasquez left Mercado Latino, then ambushed and killed security guard Frank Florez after he kicked them out for being drunk and rowdy.

    Detectives said Florez did not have backup when the ambush occurred and the security camera where the attack happened was not working. But since then the swap meet has hired more guards. "Most of the guards are now armed," said security guard Charles Turner.

    "There's more security. They're all armed. They're also continually checking the ages of people who drink. So security, for the most part, is better," said merchant Jose Ramirez.

    Not only that but Mercado Latino has also added more cameras to the dozen or so they already have "installed different cameras in different locations," said Turner.

    "They're more prepared. More than ever," said Ramirez.

    But Turner says with all the cameras and all the manpower, one can never prepare for an ambush. "You can't prepare for something like that. With an ambush you can only do your best but hopefully have more guards to see what happens and be there for you. Frank was way outnumbered that night. Six to one are not good odds especially when they set you up," said Turner.

    But then again, "Anything is an improvement. It's better than what it was," said Turner.

    Jose Torres and Juan Vasquez are still at large. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call the Secret Witness hot line at 322-4040.
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