Glendale Police
John Saro Balian, 45, was charged with obstruction of justice, accused of tipping off major crime leaders of the Mexican Mafia before crucial police raids. In this photo, the FBI seal is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, D.C. on July 5, 2016. Getty Images/ YURI GRIPAS

Glendale Police officer John Saro Balian was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Tuesday for lying to investigators in order to hide his ties with the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime in Southern California.

Balian, 45, was charged with obstruction of justice by violating 18 United States Code 1001. He was accused of tipping off major crime leaders of the Mexican Mafia before crucial police raids, providing false statements to the FBI and accepting a bribe.

"Mr. Balian moved in criminal circles and operated as though he was above the law by repeatedly lying to hide his criminal activity and that of others," Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, said in a statement, the Los Angeles Times reported. "His alleged actions impeded legitimate investigations into organized violent crime and consequently presented a threat to public safety."

Balian came into the limelight back in 2010 when he along with three other Armenian-American police officers and a former colleague from his department sued Glendale for allegedly having to face years of discrimination based on their race.

The officers alleged in the lawsuit, that they suffered “humiliation, emotional distress, and mental and physical pain and anguish,” due to the culture of discrimination prevalent in the department.

According to the lawsuit, Balian had testified on behalf of a former colleague, Benny Simonzad, in 2008 before the latter was fired. And due to his testimony, he was allegedly demoted from spokesman of the department to a patrol officer.

The case was settled by the city and Balian was rewarded $7,500 in attorney fees as well as 250 hours of sick time and 50 hours of vacation time.

The recent allegations against Balian date back to 2015. An informant with the police claimed that back then Balian went by the name “Saro” in the Mafia circles and would often order him to steal high-value cars which would then be sold outside the U.S.

Balian also allegedly aided in the extortion of marijuana dispensaries, the informant claimed.

In another instance, Balian allegedly tipped off a top target of the Mexican Mafia before his department was about to perform a gang raid. This gave the target enough time to flee the spot of the raid by the next morning, when the agents arrived. It took the police another month to find and arrest the gang member.

According to an affidavit, the FBI conducted a search of Balian's Seal Beach home Tuesday, in hopes of recovering evidence of racketeering, interference with commerce by robbery or extortion, and bribery.

Chief of Glendale Police Carl Povilaitis said in a press release on Tuesday that Balian’s actions did not reflect the morals and principles of his department.

"The allegations, in and of themselves, do not represent the values of the Glendale Police Department or our community,” said Povilaitis. “They also don’t represent the values that our officers display every day in providing service to our community, and their integrity that truly defines the Glendale Police Department."

The press release added that the investigation against Balian was being conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, apart from the FBI. The Glendale Police Department was not directly involved in the investigation, although they continue to cooperate with the relevant agencies.