As many as six dozen alleged gang members and associates were arrested early Tuesday morning in a sweep of a South Los Angeles neighborhood, conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to local and federal authorities, dozens of agents and officers were involved in the South Park neighborhood sweep, which was the result of a lengthy investigation into the 52 Broadway Gangster Crips. Authorities have alleged that the gang oversees drug sales in the area, controlling a share of the drug trade in downtown Los Angeles. Allegations have also been made against the gang for such crimes as business robberies, street robberies of bank customers, and violent crimes such as murder to enforce its will and influence.
Several gang members have been indicted under a federal racketeering law, which refers to illegal acts committed to benefit an organized crime organization. According to 18 U.S.C. § 1961, "racketeering activity" may include acts or threats of murder, kidnapping, arson, gambling, bribery, extortion, drug trafficking and various other criminal acts punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.
Under the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), federal prosecutors can charge alleged members of organized crime syndicates without necessarily having to prove that the individual personally committed the act. Rather, prosecutors must prove that the defendant owns or manages the organizations and that the organization regularly takes part in racketeering activity.
This sweep was the latest effort in a federally-backed campaign against gang crimes, intended to get high-ranking gang members off the streets. Charging gang leaders under RICO may give prosecutors more leeway in pursuing convictions, due to the reach of this Act and the span of criminal activity it covers.
It is not unusual for local, state and/or federal law enforcement agencies to work together in an effort to fight crime, particularly when drug trafficking, violent crimes and criminal organizations are allegedly involved. This gang sweep left dozens of alleged gang members in custody and several facing federal racketeering indictments. The steps these individuals take now will likely have a considerable impact on any future charges, criminal trials and penalties.
In the face of an arrest or a criminal investigation by the LAPD or FBI, no not underestimate the value of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Whether charges have been filed or you are a "person of interest" in an ongoing investigation, you may be in danger of facing serious repercussions if you are charged and convicted. If your attorney is able to get involved early on, he or she can work from the beginning to benefit your interests and protect your legal rights. No matter the crime you may have been accused of committing, you have the right to legal counsel. The U.S. Constitution offers numerous protections that should be enforced to the fullest extent, and that is where your criminal defense attorney comes in.
Contact Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP today if you would like to receive information about your rights and options in the face of an arrest, charges or investigation.