Federal and local law enforcement agencies worked together to carry out early morning raids and arrested 17 alleged members and associates of the El Monte Flores gang, according to a Wednesday statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.
The sweep was part of a four-year, multi-agency investigation into El Monte Flores, which is considered one of the largest and oldest gangs in the city. The 17 people arrested were among 41 men and women indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for a range of charges, 62 counts in all, including: drug trafficking, Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations, murder, witness intimidation, kidnapping, conspiracy to launder money, weapons trafficking and credit card fraud. The gang has also allegedly conducted hate crimes in El Monte and South El Monte "in an effort to rid these cities of all African-Americans," citing attacks and threats dating back to 2001.
Prosecutors have also alleged that the gang maintained a strong presence at the Boys & Girls Club of America, San Gabriel Valley, opening selling drugs, holding gang meetings and even hosting a car wash fundraiser.
The indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday, states that El Monte Flores is a multi-generational gang established in the 1960s, with an estimated 800 members in El Monte and South El Monte.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office statement, the gang allegedly takes direction from the Mexican Mafia, and one of the members of the prison gang, who is currently in federal custody, is listed as the lead defendant in the case.
The task force that carried out the raids and arrests was comprised of officers and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Division, and the El Monte Police Department.
It is not uncommon for local and federal law enforcement agencies to work together in carrying out lengthy investigations as well as raids and gang sweeps, as occurred in this situation. In pooling resources and manpower, law enforcement may be able to take a number of people into custody at once, and in an indictment such as this one that names more than 40 defendants, they likely saw raids as the most effective way to make multiple arrests in one fell sweep.
Criminal Defense for Gang-Related Charges in Los Angeles
If you have been arrested for or accused of any type of gang involvement, whether as a member or associate, you may find that your rights and freedom are in immediate danger. It is important to remain silent and to ask for an attorney, as anything you say or do after you are taken into custody may be used against you later – even if you are trying to defend yourself or explain your innocence. A skilled attorney can work from the beginning to protect your constitutional rights to the fullest extent.
For additional information and insight on gang crimes, hate crimes and other related criminal charges in California, please call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Lessem & Newstat. Our firm offers experienced and aggressive defense counsel to clients across Southern California in the face of a wide range of misdemeanor and felony offenses, in both state and federal court. We also represent minors accused of gang-related activity in juvenile court proceedings.
With more than 50 years of combined legal experience that includes more than 200 jury trials and hundreds of case dismissals, our team is here to fight for you. Call today.