LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Federal authorities dealt a major blow to two large, violent gangs that were terrorizing South LA and the San Fernando Valley.
A total of 36 gang members were arrested Wednesday as part of a joint RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) investigation by the FBI and LAPD.
In the San Fernando Valley, Wednesday’s bust comes 14 years after the Vineland Boys were hit with a series of federal indictments in the wake of the 2003 murder of Burbank police Officer Matthew Pavelka. Federal officials say 25 members of the gang and its associates have been indicted by a federal grand jury on a wide range of charges including shootings, assaults, extortion and weapons and methamphetamine trafficking.
Four more indictments cumulatively charge 14 other defendants with supplying methamphetamine to the Vineland Boys, with some transactions done near an elementary school. All five indictments charge a total of 45 defendants.
“Our first attack on this street gang dealt punishing blow to its operations and sent a message that law enforcement would not tolerate their violent acts and drug trafficking,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “Unfortunately, a new generation of gangsters has come of age and tried to revive the organization’s control of drug trafficking through violence.
Eleven Vineland Boys members and associates were already in custody, and nine more are at large. Four of them are believed to be in Mexico.
Federal officials also announced the arrest of several members of the South Los Angeles-based Florencia-13 gang on federal racketeering, narcotics and firearms charges. The 11 gang members arrested Wednesday are among 36 named in six federal grand jury indictments that accuse the gang of drug trafficking, illegal gambling, attempted murder and assault.
The indictment also alleges the gang tried smuggling narcotics into California state and LA County prisons, including attempting to mail two shipments containing 100 grams of heroin to an imprisoned Mexican Mafia member. The lead defendant in the indictment, 47-year-old Leonel Laredo, is accused of directing the gang from a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, where he is currently incarcerated.
Sixteen members of the F13 gang were already in custody, and nine remain at large.
All of the gang members taken into custody Wednesday are scheduled to make their first court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court.