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A month later, less than half of 33 arrested Vagos members charged

April 14, 2010 |  4:21 pm
A month after authorities in Riverside County targeted the Vagos motorcycle gang, less than half of the 33 members arrested have yet to be charged with a crime, records show.

Authorities said the March 17 multi-agency operation was intended to send a "powerful message" to the gang, which was described as an "extreme threat" to law enforcement.

As of Wednesday, criminal charges had been filed against 14 of the reputed members, according to a Times review of records filed in Riverside County Superior Court.

Two members who were charged have pleaded guilty to felony counts of possessing controlled substances, records show.

Others, such as a 50-year-old man arrested on suspicion of possessing a billy club, have yet to be charged. A 31-year-old member arrested on suspicion of  possessing a counterfeit state seal had also not been charged, according to court records.

John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney's office, said prosecutors are still reviewing some of the cases. In others, he said, there is no rush to file charges because the defendants are not in jail, which would have forced prosecutors to file charges quicker.

The operation, during which about 400 officers targeted more than 70 locations, was successful because it let the Vagos know they have caught the attention of law enforcement officials, Hall said. Officers seized weapons, small quantities of drugs and stolen vehicles.

"They need to know we are keeping an eye on them," Hall said. "Part of the message we are trying to send is to let them know we know they are out there."

-- Robert J. Lopez