Did a Beverly Hills Strip Mall Shop Act as a Storehouse for Criminal Activity?

An ominous tale from the world of California retail

Rodeo Drive
Ominous things are allegedly afoot at a Beverly Hills strip mall.
Colton Sturgeon/Unsplash

Read enough true crime books (or watch enough crime dramas) and you’re likely to have an idea of where behind-the-scenes work for underworld activity takes place. But a recent news story out of California suggests that we might need to add a new locale to that list of archetypes: specifically, strip malls. This eminently humble collection of retail locations has always seemed relatively innocuous — which might be the point. Now, a strip mall establishment in Beverly Hills is at the center of a criminal investigation, with ominous allegations aplenty.

Writing at the Los Angeles Times, Michael Finnegan has more details on the case. Last month, a group of federal agents — representing the FBI, USPS and DEA — searched U.S. Private Vaults, located in a Beverly Hills strip mall, Beverly Palm Plaza. At the time of the search, neither the agencies nor the police departments involved revealed much about the reasons for the search.

This week, the government offered some insights as to why the search took place — and the larger case it relates to. Finnegan writes that prosecutors have argued that the company “was laundering money for drug dealers and letting them stash guns, fentanyl and stacks of $100 bills in security boxes that were rented anonymously.”

Prosecutors have also pointed out that the company’s advertising emphasized anonymity, with security based around retinal and palm scans rather than photo IDs or something similar. The company has been charged by a federal grand jury with 3 counts of conspiracy. One suspects this might be the tip of the iceberg as far as this story is concerned.

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