Sting Targets Violent Street Gang With Ties to Mexican Cartel

Operation Rose Bud targeted one of the oldest gangs in Pasadena that authorities said has ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel

By Tami Abdollah
|  Thursday, Dec 12, 2013  |  Updated 10:02 PM PDT
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A gang indictment in Pasadena seized meth, heroin and cocaine with a street value of $2.5 million and netted 12 arrests. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2013.

Gordon Tokumatsu

A gang indictment in Pasadena seized meth, heroin and cocaine with a street value of $2.5 million and netted 12 arrests. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Pasadena for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2013.

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Saying they put a “significant dent” in the San Gabriel Valley's drug problem, police and the FBI on Thursday unsealed federal indictments that charge 24 alleged gang members and their associates with operating a widespread narcotics network in Southern California with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

Law enforcement officials unsealed three federal indictments on Thursday.

The announcement and 12 arrests capped an 18-month multi-agency drug trafficking investigation dubbed "Operation Rose Bud."

Two other suspects were already in custody; two were deported; three were still under investigation; and five remained fugitives, authorities said.

The operation targeted the Varrio Pasadena Rifa street gang, which is suspected of selling and distributing methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin in the San Gabriel and Antelope valleys. Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said the drugs came from the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.

"We have a Sinaloa infusion that is coming to the Southern California region and it has arrived here," Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said at a news conference. "Today is one step forward in eradicating this influence."

Investigators said they seized meth, heroin and cocaine with a street value of $2.5 million.

Ten federal search warrants were also executed to seek evidence linked to the operation, and five children were removed and referred to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, said Timothy Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI's criminal division.

Federal and local law enforcement were attempting to apprehend the fugitives Thursday and only named two who they're hoping the public can help them locate.

The fugitives are Osvaldo Hernandez Limas, 39, and Vidal Vasquez Garcia, 32, who are both from Lancaster, said Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra.

Sanchez said Varrio Pasadena Rifa is a generational street gang and those indicted are shot-callers in the hierarchy of the gang.

"It'll make a significant dent in some of the local distribution and sales of methamphetamine here in Pasadena and the other areas as well," Sanchez said.

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