EL MONTE, Calif. - A Boys and Girls Club in El Monte, Calif. has closed its doors after an indictment by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) alleges the club served as a place where potential Mexican Mafia gang members openly held meetings and sold drugs, reports CBS Los Angeles.
Clay Hollopeter, the Executive Director of the club, told the station that the indictment holds no weight and that the board of director's decision to close the club's doors may have been politically motivated.
"They thought they had to do something, so by closing the club, they've done something," Hollopeter said. "But what they've done, really, is hurt the kids."
A number of former members of the El Monte Boys and Girls Club reportedly told the station that they never saw anything to suggest gang or drug activity there, and agree with Hollopeter that the club's closing is detrimental to the kids.
"I learned how to be sociable in Boys and Girls Club, get along with next door neighbors, be presentable," Adam Perez said. "You know why we came here? To play basketball!"
Volunteer Mayra Jimenez, meanwhile, says that she worries about the teen boys she now sees on the street, who used to be in the club.
"Now that they don't have a place to come, they're just outside, doing nothing," Jimenez said.
Police said in a statement Monday that they hope the club can reopen in the future.
"Although the city does not have formal jurisdiction over the club, we are working closely with the club's leadership to address the issues raised, and to help guide their future activities," the statement said.
Meanwhile, Hollopeter, lacking any real strategy or plan, says he hopes to reopen the club's doors, and has an idea of what that will take.
"It's going to take pressure, I think."