20 Arrested in DEA Investigation Linked to Asian Gangs in
SEP 22 - LOS ANGELES – (September 22, 2010 ) A Drug Enforcement Administration led task force this morning arrested 18 defendants named in a federal grand jury indictment that alleges narcotics trafficking and fake marriages to obtain “green cards” for foreign nationals.
The 19-count indictment charges that some of the defendants engaged in the distribution of ecstasy, that some cultivated marijuana, and that some were involved in a scheme in which foreign nationals paid tens of thousands of dollars to marry American women so they could obtain permanent resident status. During the course of the two-year investigation, authorities seized seven firearms, more than 12,500 ecstasy pills, 2,230 marijuana plants and a Lamborghini.
The investigation, called Operation Paint It Black, targeted members and associates of a San Gabriel Valley-based street gang called the Red Door. This morning’s takedown is the result of an indictment that charges 20 defendants and was returned on August 24 by a federal grand jury. Eighteen of the 20 defendants were arrested this morning, and authorities continue to search for two of the defendants.
“The DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to getting the criminal organizations distributing ecstasy and dangerous drugs out of our communities,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Ecstasy is a serious threat to our communities, particularly to our teens and youth, who are often unaware of the significant harm it can cause. Today’s arrests have dealt a severe blow to a violent criminal organization responsible for distributing large amounts of ecstasy throughout the Los Angeles area.”
In addition to the narcotics trafficking allegations, the indictment outlines a scheme in which foreign nationals paid tens of thousands of dollars to enter into sham marriages. The indictment discusses three specific sham marriages in which the foreign nationals obtained permanent resident status.
Those named in the indictment are:
Those defendants arrested today are expected to be arraigned on the indictment on September 22, 2010 in United States District Court.
“This investigation captured an Asian street gang member that was trafficking in firearms and selling ecstasy in our communities,” said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Los Angeles Field Division. “ATF will continue to utilize all investigative techniques to keep our communities safe from gang members that use or possess illegal firearms to further their criminal enterprises.”
The charges in the indictment carry statutory maximum penalties ranging from 20 years in federal prison for some of the drug trafficking charges to five years in federal prison for those charged in the marriage fraud conspiracy.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
Operation Paint It Black was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; IRS - Criminal Investigation; the Montebello Police Department; the West Covina Police Department; the Pomona Police Department; the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; and the Los Angeles County Probation Department.