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57 arrested in 38th Street Gang sting

KABC-TV covers Los Angeles and Southern California.

February 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Federal and local law enforcement personnel arrested 37 suspects connected to L.A.'s 38th Street Gang during a racketeering sting Tuesday. Twenty more people were detained on weapons and narcotics charges.

Almost 800 ATF special agents and LAPD officers participated in Tuesday morning's operation.

Fourteen defendants were already in custody. There were seven federal fugitives still at large Tuesday.

Many of the suspects arrested are named in a 130-page federal racketeering indictment. The indictment alleges violations of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), a statute used in targeting other organized crime groups. More than 250 criminal acts are listed, allegedly performed by 50 individuals, suspected of participation in murder, narcotics trafficking, robberies, extortion and witness intimidation.

Authorities seized about $250,000 in cash, 23 guns, a pound of methamphetamine and about 7 kilograms of cocaine in Tuesday's sting.

The 38th Street Gang is one of the oldest gangs in Southern California. Authorities alleged the gang is controlled by the Mexican Mafia, which charges members of the gang money in exchange for authorization to commit crimes in its area of influence, including extortion of local businesses. Revenue is then allegedly directed back to the Mexican Mafia, a notorious prison gang. Gun sales are also an alleged source of revenue for the gangs.

The gang allegedly imported narcotics from Mexico and provided "street-level" distribution amounts to numerous gang members and associates who sold the drugs in gang territory, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, L.A. County Sheriff's deputies, Glendale Police officers and California Corrections Dept. personnel also participated in Tuesday's operation.

Defendants were set to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon. Many suspects face life in federal prison if convicted.