Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Los Angeles Field Division
At The Frontline Against Violent Crime
For Immediate Release
June 25, 2009
Contact: Michael Hoffman, Special Agent, PIO
Office: (818) 265-2507
Cell: (213) 925-4547
27 Members, Associates of the 18th Street Gang Arrested on Firearms, Drug and Immigration Charges
LOS ANGELES — Federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested 27 members and associates of the 18th Street Gang early today. The arrests were the result of an 18-month investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), into the gang’s illegal activity.
Last week a federal grand jury issued six indictments charging nine members and associates of the 18th Street Gang with dealing firearms without a license, felon in possession of a firearm, distribution and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine and illegal alien in possession of a firearm.
This morning’s operation included search and arrest warrants served at 19 locations and probation searches conducted at an additional two locations. Evidence recovered included 15 firearms, a small quantity of narcotics, more than $42,000 U.S. currency, four vehicles and approximately 200 pounds of illegal fireworks. Three children were also taken into protective custody.
Several of those arrested today are higher-level members of the gang and exhibit influence over lower-level members. Many of those arrested also have significant criminal histories and if convicted of the charges alleged in the indictments face many years in federal prison.
“ATF will continue to work side-by-side with our federal and local partners to aggressively pursue gang members who use firearms to perpetrate violent crime,” said John A. Torres, special agent in charge of ATF’s Los Angeles Field Division. “In today’s economic climate, the common goal of reducing crime in our cities will be best achieved through sharing resources and the collaborative efforts of various agencies as demonstrated in this operation.”
According to Deputy Chief Kirk J. Albanese, Commanding Officer, Operations South Bureau LAPD, “The illegal casitas operating in the 77th Street Area have been the sight of three separate homicides. Today’s enforcement effort will serve to shut down these operations, incarcerate those responsible and bring a greater level of peace to the community.”
The 18th Street Gang is one of the oldest, largest and heavily entrenched gangs in Southern California. Its members have spread to numerous other states with subsets or “cliques” operating coast-to-coast. In addition to trafficking in firearms and narcotics, the 18th St. Gang engages in murder, assault, robbery, illegal gambling and prostitution. The gang and its associates often perpetrate this criminal activity at illegal after-hour clubs known as “casitas.” The casitas have been the source of murders, drug trafficking, gambling, prostitution and violent assaults. The casitas are often located in residential neighborhoods where the gang members use intimidation to keep area residents from notifying authorities.
Search warrants were served at five separate casitas early this morning. One location contained approximately 40 people. The casita searches yielded 18 illegal slot machines and two firearms. Several individuals were arrested on immigration violations at these locations.
“This operation has dealt a severe blow to one of the most dangerous and highly organized street gangs operating in this area,” said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge for ICE in Los Angeles. “Today’s enforcement action again shows the extraordinary level of multi-agency coordination and cooperation that is being brought to bear here in Los Angeles to attack and dismantle these violent organizations.”
“Today’s enforcement efforts will have a significant impact within communities throughout South Los Angeles, because those arrested include not just the street level drug dealers, but the shot-callers of this gang, those responsible for supplying and distributing meth and cocaine into our neighborhoods,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA special agent in charge. “By combining law enforcement resources, these gang members, and the drugs, guns and violence they used, have been taken off the streets.”
In addition to ATF, LAPD, ICE and DEA, substantial assistance was provided in today’s operation by the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Probation Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Inglewood Police Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Multi-Agency Response Team.
More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov.