27 arrested in raid of Los Angeles gang Lennox 13
Federal agents and local authorities on Wednesday arrested 27 people allegedly linked to the Los Angeles street gang Lennox 13.
Nearly 500 officers connected with a federal and state drug task force and L.A. County sheriff's deputies made the arrests after an 18-month probe into the Lennox 13 gang.
Many of those arrested were indicted in a federal racketeering case alleging the gang is a criminal enterprise that had engaged in violent crimes, extortion and narcotics trafficking. Others are being charged with separate federal or local crimes, and some face illegal-immigration prosecution and deportation.
The centerpiece of the investigation is an 11-count indictment alleging violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The indictment names 15 defendants, nine of whom were taken into custody Wednesday.
“The drug-related violence of street gangs continues to inflict devastation in many of our communities,” said Timothy J. Landrum, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles.
The “13” stands for the letter M and was added to the gang’s name about 20 years ago when it became associated with the Mexican Mafia. In Wednesday's raid, authorities also arrested one woman on a federal weapons charge, eight people on state narcotics charges, five on probation violations, two on federal criminal charges of illegal reentry after deportation and two on suspicion of being illegal immigrants.
The indictment alleges drug sales made up the bulk of the gang’s profits in its territory just east of Los Angeles International Airport. The alleged scheme involved street-level narcotics dealers having to pay regular “rent” or “tax” to the gang to do business.
In exchange for the payments, Lennox 13 members provided protection to the drug dealers from rivals, the indictment claims.
The gang also routinely extorted legitimate business owners operating in territory claimed by Lennox 13, according to the indictment. The gang in turn allegedly paid a tax to the Mexican Mafia, which provided protection to Lennox 13 members within the prison system.
It also allegedly used the money to purchase weapons. Some of the money allegedly paid attorney’s fees for gang members who had been charged with crimes, contributed to funeral costs for gang members who were killed and was deposited into the prison accounts of incarcerated gang members.
If convicted under the RICO statute, an offender can receive 20 years in federal prison.
-- Richard Winton