Phase II Gang Crack Down Nabs 11 Suspects

Authorities Wednesday arrested another 11 suspected southeast Los Angeles street gang members in the second phase of what federal prosecutors are calling the largest gang takedown in the nation's history.

Those arrested are among two-dozen individuals named in a newly unsealed federal narcotics-trafficking indictment outlining a drug pipeline to and from members of the generations-deep Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The suspected gang members were due this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The first phase of the investigation resulted in more than 100 arrests linked to a sweeping racketeering indictment accusing the gang of a litany of crimes, including the murder of a sheriff's deputy, extortion, witness intimidation and racially motivated crimes against African-Americans in order to rid them from their neighborhoods, court papers show.
The U.S. Attorney's Office also announced today that another nine people linked to the gang's crimes were arrested across four Southland counties and are expected to be charged in state court.
In making those arrests, authorities seized eight firearms, more than 400 rounds of ammunition, one pound of methamphetamine and a ballistics vest, U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said.
Also picked up recently were seven additional suspected gang members charged previously in federal court, O'Brien said.
In all, "Operation Knock Out" has taken more than 300 alleged gang members and associates off the street, O'Brien said. He characterized the investigation and prosecution is "the largest gang takedown in United States history."
The series of federal indictments against nearly 200 persons who face the potential of lengthy prison sentences "has taught us the power of law enforcement joining together to target criminal organizations that cause so much pain in our communities," O'Brien said.
"As we have seen in other areas, such as the Drew Street section of Los Angeles, law enforcement can have a lasting impact to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods," he said.
In the first phase of the operation, about 1,400 federal agents and local police swept through the blighted area of southeast Los Angeles and made 63 arrests, while an additional 35 people already in jail on other charges were served with additional warrants, O'Brien said.
The five-decade-old Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang was targeted following the murder of Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Jerry Ortiz four years ago by a gang member he was attempting to arrest on suspicion of shooting a black man, he said.
That gang member, Jose Orozco, was quickly apprehended and currently sits on death row, O'Brien said.
Along with the killing of Ortiz, the racketeering indictment outlines other violent attacks, drug trafficking, carjackings and kidnappings.
In one example, prosecutors contend that George Manuel Flores, the lead defendant in the case and an alleged longtime member of the gang, ordered the murder of another gang member believed to be cooperating with law enforcement.
Flores is also accused of providing a young gang member with a weapon and instructing him to shoot blacks who lived nearby.
Los Angeles police officials estimate there are more than 250 active gangs in Los Angeles, with a combined membership of more than 26,000.
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