Drug trafficking network dismantled in crackdown in Los Angeles, U.S.

09:51, October 22, 2010      

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An entire drug trafficking network has been dismantled in a crackdown in Los Angeles of the United States involving several law enforcement agencies, authorities said on Thursday.

The crackdown led to the arrests of nearly three dozen gang members as part of a three-year, multi-agency investigation of weapons and drug trafficking in the Harbor Area of Los Angeles, according to the Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles.

The investigation, dubbed "Red Rein," stemmed from a 2007 probe called "Ghost Town," in which nearly four dozen alleged drug dealers and weapons traffickers in the area were arrested.

The current probe targeted cocaine being distributed as crack by two Harbor Area street gangs, the East Side Pain and Waterfront Piru, prosecutors said.

"As a result of this investigation and enforcement action, we' ve dismantled an entire drug trafficking network, from the street dealer to the actual supplier," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for the office.

"We believe these defendants were responsible for funneling large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine into our communities," he said. "With today's arrests, we've shut down that potentially deadly supply chain and cut off what was a key source of cash for some of the most ruthless and violent gangs operating in this area."

The arrests came after a Los Angeles federal grand jury returned six indictments naming 61 defendants, many of them gang members, who allegedly trafficked in firearms and large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Of the 61 charged, 58 face mandatory minimum sentences of either 10 or 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.

Forty of those facing federal charges are in custody, including 35 arrested Thursday and five who were already behind bars, federal prosecutors said.

Another 21 defendants named in the indictments are still being sought.

In addition to the arrests, federal and local investigators found a meth lab, more than 1.5 pounds of meth, five pounds of marijuana, nearly 100 marijuana plants, more than 20,000 dollars in cash, and four firearms, including a shotgun.

Also, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office filed a civil " abatement" lawsuit to shut down alleged drug trafficking activities at a hotel apparently used as a hangout by a Harbor Area gang, federal prosecutors said.

Using telephone wiretaps, informants and surveillance, investigators determined that gang members were responsible for funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crack each month onto the streets of the Harbor Area, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.



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