Joint DEA Task Force Targets Los Angeles Heroin Organization with
MAR 25 -- (LOS ANGELES) – On March 24, 2009, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum, U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien, U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent in Charge Robert Schoch and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced the culmination of a seven month investigation targeting a heroin distribution organization supplying heroin to 11 violent street gangs in East Los Angeles and surrounding areas. The investigation resulted in 88 arrests, and the seizure of more $1.5 million in assets, to include vehicles and cash, 2 firearms, and more than 20 kilograms of heroin with a street value of $2.5 million dollars.
On March 12, 2009, 48 individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to distribute more than 1000 grams of heroin. During the morning hours on March 24, 2009, officers arrested 33 individuals charged in the federal indictment, as well as 12 individuals to be charged with State of California drug violations. In addition, three individuals also charged in the federal indictment are already in state custody and will be remanded into federal custody.
“The relationship between drugs and street gangs isn’t new to DEA. Street gangs continue to fund their operations through the illicit drug market – in this case, preying on those vulnerable in our communities through the sale of heroin on the streets of Los Angeles,” said Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration. “Those arrested today were responsible for bringing more than 150,000 doses of heroin onto the streets of Los Angeles every week - enough heroin to supply thousands of people, with a street value of more than half a million dollars. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, working together to rid our neighborhoods of violent drug traffickers and street gangs.”
According to an affidavit filed in support of search warrants, the organization imported black tar heroin from Mexico, and then distributed the heroin to at least six different distribution networks operating in East Los Angeles, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The heroin would then be distributed for sale in baggies sold to 11 street gangs in the Los Angeles area. The organization is believed to be responsible for distributing approximately 15 kilograms of heroin per week, generating a profit of approximately $2 million dollars per month.
“By pooling our expertise and resources, we have dismantled an international crime ring that for years has been importing and selling heroin to gangs throughout Southern California,” said Robert Schoch, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Los Angeles. “As the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, our goal is to disrupt activities that threaten public safety. When you’re talking about a dangerous and highly addictive drug that ruins lives and fosters further crime, those risks are all too real.”
The individuals charged in the indictment face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.
This case is the product of a 7-month investigation by the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA), which is made up of agents and officers from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The Los Angeles HIDTA received significant contributions to this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation from: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Unites States Marshal’s Service (USMS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Montebello Police Department, West Covina Police Department, El Monte Police Department, California Bureau of Narcotics – Los Angeles Inter-Agency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT) and Los Angeles County Probation.
An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.