Culture

One Of LA’s Most Popular Taco Stands Got Raided By The Health Dept. And It’s Already Back In Business

Avenue 26 Tacos, a popular taco stand tucked in a small street between the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights, is back in business after being raided late at night on Thursday, Oct. 19.

According to Eater, witnesses described those conducting the raid as “cops.” After the original story broke, the LAPD and L.A. County Sherrif’s Department denied any involvement in the raid. Eventually, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health took responsibility for the raid. The taco stand is serving up tacos once again after being closed just over 48 hours. Here’s what we know.

Late at night on Oct. 19, then-unknown authorities raided and dismantled Avenue 26 Tacos.

The swift raid removed the very popular taco stand in Los Angeles. A witness to the raid said “cops” were everywhere, according to Eater‘s original report.

Loyal patrons expressed their grief over the loss of an L.A. staple.

Many Avenue 26 Tacos diners took to Twitter and Instagram to express their outrage over the closure of Avenue 26 Tacos.

After news of the raid spread throughout Los Angeles, the LAPD released a statement denying their involvement.

Later, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced it conducted the raid.


According to a statement provided to Eater, the Health Department said the taco stand was shut down after someone filed a complaint about a “non-permitted food operation.” Here is the statement in full:

On Thursday, October 19, 2017, investigators from LA City Street Services contacted LA County Street Vending Program to assist with an investigation of a non-permitted food operation complaint at Avenue 26 and Humbolt Street, Los Angeles. Upon arrival, LA County Street Vending investigators observed an abandoned, non-permitted taco stand. As a result the food and taco cart were confiscated.

According to the L.A. City Street Services website, they have an Investigation and Enforcement division that is described as a “specialized law enforcement agency.”

CREDIT: bss.lacity.org

The police officers conducting the raid who were described by witnesses could be officers from the Investigation and Enforcement division. “Illegal vending” is listed as one of the city ordinances that are enforced by the division:

“District Investigators are primarily responsible for public health and safety related to their duty to protect public property and reduce blight in our community by pro-actively enforcing municipal ordinances and laws pertaining to illegal dumping; illegal signs; obstructions in public right-of-way; illegal vending and storm drain violations.”

People are calling on the city to legalize street vending to avoid another incident like the one that took place at Avenue 26 Tacos.

NPR reports that just a few weeks after President Trump won the election, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize street vending to protect undocumented people.

“We didn’t want to take a chance in further assisting with the division of families, should some of these individuals get caught up in the court system because of a small infraction,” City Councilman Jose Huizar, a proponent of legalizing street vending, told NPR.

The taco stand closed temporarily but social media posts show that it’s back.

It appears the raid by the health department didn’t do much to slow down the business. Loyal patrons of the taco stand showed up as soon as the stand opened and, according to social media, they are seeing the same success now.

You just can’t keep a good taco stand down, especially in Los Angeles.


READ: A Street Vendor At A UC Berkeley Football Game Had His Money Taken When Police Issued Him A Ticket

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The Guinness World Record For The Biggest Carnitas Taco Was Just Broken In Queretaro, Mexico

Culture

The Guinness World Record For The Biggest Carnitas Taco Was Just Broken In Queretaro, Mexico

@luisbnava / Twitter

Mexicans have been putting food inside a tortilla, folding it in half and calling it breakfast, lunch and dinner, since before the Popol Vuh came to be. Tacos are our love language, our most precious export to the world —ok maybe that’s an exaggeration… or is it? You could offer us caviar, pâté de foie gras, white truffles, oysters and we’d (rightly so) still choose a taco de carne asada. But there’s one Mexican among us all who loves tacos so much, he set out to make the world’s largest one. Stuffed with Carnitas, and weighing an exorbitant amount, Alejandro Paredes managed to produce the world’s biggest taco de carnitas. 

Queretaro is the record holder for the world’s largest taco de carnitas.

The state of Queretaro in Mexico earned the Guinness World Record for their gigantic taco de carnitas a few weeks ago. The monster-taco stretched to an entire city block, and measured 102 meters long (nearly 335 ft) and weighed 1,200 kilograms of tortillas (almost 3,000 lbs) and 1,507 kilograms of delicious carnitas (just over 3300 lbs).

Alejandro Paredes Resendiz is responsible for the carnitas-filled monstrosity. 

Credit: @luisbnava / Twitter

The organizer of the event came up with the idea in 2011, when he promised his uncle —the head of Queretaro’s gastronomical council— that he would make the world’s biggest carnitas taco. 

Apparently, the Guinness record committee declined several applications prior to Paredes’.

Alejandro Paredes said the Guinness organizing committee had already declined five previous applications for ‘the world’s biggest carnitas taco’, so he waited until he knew he could fulfill all the requirements necessary to qualify for a world record.  “We used certified workers with history in Querétaro,” said Paredes. “We complied with all the regulations of the Guinness contract. All of the carnitas were made today, everyone had the proper equipment and, most importantly, we shared the food with all who attended.”

Guinness World Records does not award prize money, but Paredes said that if they raise any money as a result of the record, it will be donated.

“If we earn even one peso, it will be donated to the DIF family services center, because Querétaro should be the best state in Latin America,” he said.

For Reséndiz, the achievement was not only a world record, but also a personal best.

“I broke my own record because the last taco I made was 75 meters long. It was registered, but not certified. I hope that all 1500 people can eat. We began at six in the morning and we won’t go home until the volunteers feed the visitors and the taco is gone,” he said.

The enormous taco fed 1500 attendees. It took more than 25 chefs and 150 gastronomy students to prepare the record-breaking feat. The huge team of cooks started preparing the food 12 hours prior to the assembly of the taco. 

Queretaro managed to take Guadalajara’s record. 

The 102 meter long taco, made in Queretaro, broke the record that had been set by Guadalajara with its 75 meter long taco a few years prior.

But why carnitas in Queretaro?

Credit: donmacizo / Instagram

In Mexico, each state has its own culinary traditions and local plates — ‘carnitas’ is not typical of Queretaro, so why did they decide to make this particular taco?

“I recognize that there are other states in the country, like Michoacán, where they make delicious carnitas, but here in Querétaro there are seven different styles,” Paredes said. Alejandro Paredes claims to have conducted a study to find our which food was most consumed in his state, and voila, he found out that the people of Queretaro love carnitas. 

Carnitas are made by cooking the different parts of the pig in giant copper or stainless steel pots. The meat is traditionally seasoned with a mineral salt called tequesquite, but there are many different regional variations.

Local tourist agencies, taqueros, and municipal authorities plan to share the news about the record-breaking event, to promote tourism in the area and to invite taco-lovers everywhere, from Mexico and the world, to visit Queretaro and try its delicious carnitas. 

A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

Things That Matter

A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

@LADAOffice / Twitter

In 2008, Ruben Martinez Jr. was sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison for crimes he never committed. Nearly 13 years after his arrest, Martinez walked out of the Los Angeles Superior Court a free man, exonerated from his wrongful conviction. “I did not do this time by myself,” Martinez said on the court steps. “My family did time. My wife did time with me, did the 11 years with me. I couldn’t do it on my own, by my own strength. It was God’s strength that got me through this.” His wife, Maria Martinez, a secretary for the sheriff’s department, appealed the conviction five times only to be rejected each time.

Ruben may have never experienced freedom if Maria didn’t pull some strings to convince prosecutors to look at his case, a sobering detail for innocent inmates without connections.

Ruben and Maria were all smiles as their unjust chapter came to a close.

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

“All my husband wanted was for the truth to be revealed. Well, the truth has been revealed, and he’s a free man,” Maria Martinez said. Ruben had never wavered in his innocence and even turned down a plea deal that would have given him a two and a half year prison sentence. “I am sorry for this injustice and I am so happy that you did not give up on us and allowed us to share this moment,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey, pictured in the blazer, told the Martinez family. 

“Mr. Martinez and his wife proved to be unstoppable in their pursuit of his freedom,” DA Lacey told reporters. “Throughout this terrible experience, the two were never deterred by setbacks and instead demonstrated remarkable strength and dignity through what I imagine must have been a dark time in their lives.”

Ruben Martinez Jr. was convicted, even though he was working when the crimes were committed.

Credit: @oborraez / Twitter

All it took was one witness to identify Ruben as the armed robber who held up the same auto body shop five times. During the 2005 to 2007 sprees, Ruben was employed at a temporary employment agency and has proof that he was working during two of the robberies. In fact, Ruben had to endure two trials that failed to prove his innocence. The first trial ended as a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked. During the second trial, two key witnesses to his innocence were not called by either the defense or the prosecution. He was convicted and sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison on nine counts of armed robbery.

But Maria was relentless in proving his innocence.

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

After five rejected appeals, Maria leaned on close family friend and retired homicide detective, Catherine Wills. Wills and her husband were so close with the Martinez’s that Wills’s husband walked Maria down the aisle and gave her hand to Ruben. Wills and Maria compiled six months of research into a binder to give to DA Lacey. Wills’ credibility and persistence went a long way. “I told them, ‘Look, I’m 82 years old now, and I’m not going to die until Ruben Martinez is out of prison,'” Wills reportedly said.

In 2015, DA Lacey’s office created a unit dedicated to reviewing wrongful conviction claims, but Ruben’s case is only the third case supported in four years. Still, it was DA Lacey’s unit that “painstakingly tracked down witnesses and uncovered employment records and pay stubs that confirmed that Mr. Martinez could not have committed two of the crimes that were clearly the work of the same serial robber,” CNN reports Lacey to have said.

Ruben says that he has “no grudges.”

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

Ruben is the first person that DA Lacey exonerated without any legal representation. “Although the vast majority of convictions are correctly upheld, I knew that, at times, the pursuit of justice, which depends on human beings, is not perfect,” Lacey told reporters. “And Mr. Martinez’s case serves as a stark reminder to all of us: Despite our best efforts, we don’t always get it right.”

“The Lord Jesus Christ is a part of my life, and there’s no grudges.” Ruben told the crowd. “People are human people do make mistakes. But what touches me is when the DA got behind me and stamped me … and proved me innocent — so what grudge?” What’s next for Ruben? Right now, he’s just excited to get his driver’s license and get a job.

READ: Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence