63 Arrested in “Largest Gang Takedown in US History”

In what federal officials called the "largest gang takedown in United States history," 63 alleged gang members in the Hawaiian Gardens area were arrested today on drug and racketeering charges.

The gang was targeted following the murder of Los Angeles sheriff's Deputy Jerry Ortiz four years ago, said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien.

The early morning raids were aimed at 88 reputed gang members who were among 147 named in five federal indictments unsealed today, he said.

"A year and a half ago I announced a major federal indictment that charged 102 members of the Valencia 13 street gang here in Los Angeles," O'Brien said at a news conference at the sheriff's Lakewood Station.

"At that time it was the largest federal gang sweep in history and caused a significant impact on a South Los Angeles street gang in this community," he said. "Today I'm here to announce an even larger sweep, something that is certain to have a tremendous and positive impact on the city of Hawaiian Gardens.

He said about 1,400 law enforcement officials, including members of 17 separate SWAT teams, fanned out across Hawaiian Gardens and nearby communities to arrest 88 people linked to a gang that has plagued the area for 50 years.

"Today's arrests stem from a series of federal indictments that charge 147 separate defendants, making this operation the largest federal gang sweep in the history of the Department of Justice," he said.

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Central to the case is a racketeering indictment against 57 leaders and members of Barrio Hawaiian Gardens, which O'Brien called a criminal enterprise.

Ortiz, a 35-year-old member of the anti-gang detail at the Lakewood Station, was gunned down on June 24, 2005, while investigating a shooting at a Hawaiian Gardens home.

In May 2007, 29-year-old gang member Jose Orozco was sentenced to death for Ortiz's murder.

The multi-agency operation included personnel from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

 

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