Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

May 4, 2011

Contact: Special Agent Christian Hoffman, PIO

Office: (818) 265-2507

Cell: (213) 216-3622

ATF Undercover Storefront Nabs 19 in Venice, Culver City Area

LOS ANGELES – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced the arrests of 19 defendants, for various firearm and narcotics violations during an investigation dubbed, Operation Villainz Ink.

ATF, in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Pacific Division, initiated an investigation targeting Venice/Culver City-area criminal street gangs known by investigators to engage in firearms-related offenses and narcotics trafficking.

ATF set up and maintained an undercover storefront in the Venice area of Los Angeles, known, according to law enforcement, to be controlled primarily by Venice 13 (also known as Venice Trece) criminal street gang members. The ATF storefront operated by ATF undercover agents successfully attracted a number of suspected criminal street gang members and associates who in the course of the four-month investigation sold illegal narcotics, committed numerous firearms violations, and sold a firearm to an ATF undercover agent.

ATF aggressively pursues violent gangs who threaten the safety of our citizens and our communities. ATF and the LAPD will continue working together to go after these individuals to take them off our streets. When violent crime is reduced, everyone wins – the city of Los Angeles and its citizens, said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Los Angeles Field Division.

The following six defendants are named in federal criminal complaints:

  • George R. Lopez, 41, Lawndale, felon in possession of a firearm;
  • Salvador Garcia, 29, Mid-City Los Angeles, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance;
  • Cesar Perez Rios, 39, South Los Angeles, felon in possession of a firearm;
  • Mario Vincent Lopez, 43, Lawndale, felon in possession of a firearm;
  • Joey Edward Leyba, 37, West Los Angeles, distribution of a controlled substance;
  • Maribel Gordio, 35, South Los Angeles, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

The remaining defendants are being charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office on numerous state firearm and narcotic violations.

The investigation was led the by ATF and LAPD. The following agencies provided support during the investigation and today’s arrests: Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group 52; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Special Services Unit; Los Angeles County Probation Department; and the Inglewood Police Department.

Federal charges are being prosecuted by the United States Attorney Office and state felony charges by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

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