61 gang members, associates indicted on federal drug, weapons charges
Federal and local law enforcement officials announced Thursday that they had arrested and indicted dozens of gang members or their associates suspected of distributing weapons as well as large quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamine.
The members of different gangs -- 61 people in all -- were named in six different federal indictments aimed at breaking the back of the distribution network of illegal drugs and weapons. Most of the suspects face between 10 and 20 years in federal prison if convicted of all charges.
The operation was centered in the Harbor Gateway area of Los Angeles as well as Long Beach and La Puente, where federal authorities allege that members of at least 10 gangs acted as suppliers for gangs in other parts of Los Angeles and Southern California.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with Immigration Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Los Angeles Police Department arrested at least 40 gang members or their associates in coordinated pre-dawn raids, according to Thom Mrozek, spokesman with the U.S. attorney's office.
[For the record, 1:27 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency participated in the raids.]
More than 800 federal and local law enforcement officers were involved in Operation Red Rein.
The largest of the half-dozen indictments targeted members of the Eastside Pain gang suspected of trafficking in kilos of cocaine. Members of Puente 13 were involved in the distribution of 55 pounds of methamphetamine, according to the indictment.
Also named in the indictments were members of East Side Wilmas, North Side Wilmas, Harbor City Crips, Compton Avenue Crips, Fruit Town Piru, El Monte Flores and Primera Flats.
The operation carried out Thursday morning was an outgrowth of arrests two years ago targeting street gangs in the "ghost town" area of Wilmington, authorities said.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: LAPD Officer Tony Lobato, left, of the Harbor Division, and ATF Special Agent Christian Hoffman carry some of the confiscated weapons at the Harbor Station in San Pedro. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times