Orange County has Disneyland. San Diego has Seaworld. And L.A. has ... Drugland, conveniently located just east of LAX.
This according to federal authorities, who on Wednesday swept the Lennox 13 gang, including some members named in an indictment that alleges the set profited from drug sales in the area, extorted local business owners, and kicked "taxes" up to the Mexican Mafia.
Twenty-seven people were arrested this morning following the 18-month investigation and subsequent sweep by sheriff's deputies and the federal Southern California Drug Task Force.
One defendant, 47-year-old Dante Hurtado, allegedly sold drugs out of a Lennox barbershop where his homies were known to hang out, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A.
Fifteen defendants were named in a federal indictment targeting the gang, with six of those being hit with the additional allegations of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act -- a law originally intended to bust up mob crime.
Some of the folks arrested were not part of the indictment but were wanted anyway.
Two were described as suspected illegal immigrants; one woman was cuffed for an alleged federal weapons violation; five people were said to be on probation; and other faced state narcotics allegations and federal criminal allegations for allegedly re-entering the country after having been departed.
Among those arrested were Baldemiro "Pana" Ulloa, a 53-year-old "shot caller" who is allegedly involved in drug sales; Cesar "Tamal" Facio, who authorities claim distributed cocaine and meth, collected "taxes" from dealers and extorted one business; and Marco "Tony" or "Sniper" Ruix Nario, who allegedly supplied coke to the gang.
At large was Miguel "Stranger" Estrada, a 42-year-old from nearby Hawthorne who authorities allege sold drugs, collected taxes and extorted one business.
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RICO defendants could go down for 20 years; the rest of the indictees could see 10 years if convicted.
Obligatory law enforcement quote:
"Today's joint operation has dealt a serious blow to a ruthless and dangerous street gang operating here in the Los Angeles area," said Claude Arnold, Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles. "Working with our law enforcement partners, ICE will continue to target and dismantle these gangs to rid our streets not only of drug dealers, but of the violence and other criminal activity associated with the drug trade."
So, happy travelers, we guess you'll have to get your coke and meth elsewhere from now on. (Lord knows it's hard to find in the other communities around LAX).