More than a thousand federal agents and Los Angeles Police Department officers took part in a gang sweep Thursday against the Rancho San Pedro gang. Officials said the alleged gang members dealt drugs, sold guns and intimidated witnesses in San Pedro.
Officers arrested 80 people on drug, firearm and extortion charges. For some officials involved in Operation Pirate Town, taking down the San Pedro gang became personal.
"I grew up here," says L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. "I’ve watched these guys grow from a nothing gang, when I was in high school. We used to pick on these guys. They became a cancer.
The City Attorney’s Office filed gang injunctions against the alleged gang members that prohibit them from associating in San Pedro. Investigators say the gang targeted African-Americans and threatened housing project employees.
The LAPD and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led the investigation for two-and-a-half years.
Claude Arnold with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it troubled him to find out that children were around when gang members committed crimes. "One of the people we arrested was a teenaged girl, had just become an adult, no prior criminal history, but her mother, a gang member, induced her, convinced her, to transport methamphetamine."
U.S. Attorney for the Central District Andre Birotte said these multi-agency sweeps try to dismantle a gang from top to bottom. He listed similar efforts from the last few years.
"Targeting 38th Street Gang, Lennox 13, Armenian Power and gangs across the region," said Birotte, "federal resources have been pooled together with state and local resources to reach gang leaders that thought, quite frankly, that they were untouchable."
Police expect to arrest more suspects in continuing investigations. Even if some of them post bail, officials said, gang injunctions should make San Pedro safer.