Indictments Target Street Gang Allegedly Selling Crack
AUG 10 - (LOS ANGELES) – A task force of federal and local law enforcement officers this morning arrested 34 members and associates of a Pasadena-based street gang, 11 of whom are charged in federal indictments with trafficking crack cocaine in the Antelope Valley.
The 11 federal arrests are the result of two indictments returned August 4, 2010 by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. The indictments name a total of 23 defendants linked to the Pasadena Denver Lane Bloods (PDL), which has branched out into the Antelope Valley in recent years. In addition to the 11 federal defendants arrested this morning, five of the federal defendants were previously taken into custody and 23 people were arrested on various state offenses and parole violations. Authorities continue to search for six defendants named in the federal indictments. The final defendant was not arrested because she is in the hospital.
The investigation began last year after a PDL member shot and wounded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Giovanni Lampigano during a July 12, 2009 incident in Palmdale. The investigation was conducted by officers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department-Operation Safe Streets Bureau and law enforcement personnel associated with the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, which is a program operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration designed to enhance and coordinate efforts among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. As a result of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately two pounds of crack cocaine and 114 grams of powder cocaine.
“Today’s arrests are an example of what can be achieved through the HIDTA task force program and DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team, by combining federal, state and local resources to have the greatest impact within our communities – in this case, by taking violent PDL gang members, who were supporting their gang activities through the sale of crack cocaine, off the streets of the Antelope Valley,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge.
Claude Arnold, Special Agent in Charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, stated: “This enforcement action has dealt a serious blow to one of the most dangerous and aggressive criminal street gangs operating in the Antelope Valley. As a result of our collective efforts, we’ve taken several leaders of this organization off of the street and shutdown a lucrative and potentially lethal drug trafficking scheme. In conjunction with our ongoing anti-gang initiative Operation Community Shield, ICE will continue to work closely with its federal and local law enforcement partners to attack and dismantle the street gangs that are spreading violence and crime in our communities.”
The two federal indictments allege conspiracies to traffic in crack cocaine, as well as various specific narcotics and firearms offenses. The defendants named in the indictments are:
The federal defendants taken into custody today are expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
Each of the 23 defendants in the federal cases would face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison if they are convicted of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Dejon Ray King, the PDL member who shot Deputy Lampigano, was convicted in June in state court of attempted murder on a peace officer. King was subsequently sentenced to 38 years to life.
The HIDTA Task Force that conducted this investigation is made up of law enforcement personnel from the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team, or MET, joined forces with the HIDTA task force during a recent deployment in the Antelope Valley. DEA MET teams are deployed on a temporary basis to assist state and local law enforcement in the disruption or dismantlement of violent drug trafficking organizations and gangs.