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Arrests deal staggering blow to South LA street gang

December 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Federal and local law enforcement personnel arrested 18 suspects connected to South Los Angeles' Harpys Street Gang during a racketeering sting Thursday morning.

The unsealed indictment alleges that incarcerated Mexican mafia member Danny Roman continued to direct criminal activity through his daughter.

Roman controls 13 Latino gangs through Los Angeles including Harpys Street Gang which claims territory southwest of downtown LA and north of USC.

Vianna Roman, 23, and her husband Aaron Soto allegedly relayed her father's order to gang members who ran criminal activities in the neighborhood including collecting taxes on businesses and gangs under the threat of violence and murder. The tax payments were allegedly funneled back to Roman in prison.

The indictment also states Roman collected taxes from vendors at the Alameda Swap Meet, a central location for criminal activity by members of the 38th Street gang.

Many of the suspects arrested are named in a 110-page federal racketeering indictment. The indictment alleges violations of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), a statue used in targeting other organized crime groups. More than 60 counts are listed, allegedly performed by 29 individuals, suspected of participation in murder, narcotics trafficking, robberies, extortion, and witness intimidation.

During the investigation dubbed "Operation Roman Empire", authorities also seized eight pounds of methamphetamine, a half-pound of heroin, one pound of cocaine, 23 pounds of marijuana, and 22 guns.

Members of the Los Angeles High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, which is comprised of LAPD officers and DEA agents, participated in the 2 1/2 year long investigation which led to Thursday's takedown.

Five of the 29 arrested are fugitives and have yet to be identified. The remaining are in state custody on other charges.

Roman, 53, wasn't indicted because he's currently serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole for a 1984 first-degree murder conviction.

All but one suspect faces life in federal prison if convicted.


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