More than 400 federal and local law enforcement officers launched early morning raids on the El Monte Flores gang, whose members have been indicted on crimes including murder, identity theft and hate crimes against African Americans, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. Police arrested 17 people Wednesday.
African-Americans who might reside or visit El Monte and South El Monte were targeted by the gang “in an effort to rid these cities of all African-Americans,” according to a 62-count indictment that names 41 defendants. The indictment alleges several incidents dating back to early 2001 in which African-Americans were attacked, threatened and subjected to racial epithets.
The gang allegedly engaged in a range of other crimes, including drug trafficking, witness intimidation, kidnapping, weapons trafficking, and credit card fraud. According to prosecutors, the gang maintained a significant presence at the Boys & Girls Club of America – San Gabriel Valley Club – where gang members openly sold drugs, held gang meetings and even held a car wash fundraiser. Members of the gang also regularly use and threaten to use violence to extort “taxes” from drug dealers at “Crawford’s Plaza,” according to the indictment.
The gang allegedly takes direction from the Mexican Mafia prison gang. The indictment outlines an ongoing dispute involving members of the Mexican Mafia who are attempting to exercise control over the gang. One of those members, James “Chemo” Gutierrez, 52, is the lead defendant in the indictment and is currently in federal custody, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office statement.
The indictment that was unsealed Wednesday, states that El Monte Flores is a multi-generational gang that was formed in the 1960s and has an estimated 800 members in El Monte and South El Monte.
The investigation into the El Monte Flores gang was conducted by a task force that included the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - IRS – Criminal Investigation and the El Monte Police Department, according to the statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.
The defendants face various charges, including conspiracy to engage in racketeering activity in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute controlled substances, using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking, weapons charges, conspiracy to launder money and being an illegal alien after previously being deported.