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Dozens of alleged South L.A. gang members arrested in racketeering case

August 25, 2010 | 12:12 pm

Federal agents and police swept into a South L.A. housing project Wednesday, arresting dozens of alleged gang members indicted on federal racketeering charges of murder, drug dealing and assaults, law enforcement officials said.

The raid against the Pueblo Bishop Bloods, a group believed to have long kept a tight, violent grip on drug sales and other illegal activity in the Pueblo del Rio housing project, was the culmination of a two-year investigation by the FBI, LAPD and other agencies, officials said.

Code-named “Operation Family Ties” because of the gang’s tight-knit affiliations, the sweep targeted a few dozen alleged members of the gang who are accused of various federal charges in a broad, 88-page indictment handed down last week by a grand jury.

Nineteen were arrested Wednesday, some were already in custody on unrelated charges and 10 others are fugitives, according to information released by the involved agencies. Ten more were taken into custody on state narcotics charges.

The accused gang members face a host of charges dating as far back as 1999, including murder; drug manufacturing near schools and playgrounds; cocaine, heroin and marijuana sales; assaults; and attacks on police officers.

The move against Pueblo Bishop is the latest action in a long-running effort by federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to disrupt or break up gangs that have become deeply entrenched in the Los Angeles region over several decades.

Like many similar attempts to disrupt or break up other Los Angeles gangs, prosecutors are characterizing Pueblo Bishop as a well-structured criminal organization and have brought racketeering charges against the gang under a special anti-organized crime law called the RICO Act, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, that allows for more serious charges and longer prison sentences.

“The federal racketeering indictment and today’s law enforcement operation strikes at the gang’s leadership and will drastically limit the gang’s ability to conduct business,” said United States Atty. André Birotte Jr. in a statement.

-- Joel Rubin

Photo: Los Angeles Police officer looks at poster outlining arrests made at Pueblo del Rio. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times