Federal officials today cracked down on a Mexican Mafia-connected gang it says has targeted USC students for robberies and shaken down or “taxed” local businesses via threats of violence and murder.
The RICO organized-crime indictment against alleged leaders and members of the “Harpys Deadend Gang” in West Adams was accompanied by 18 arrests this morning, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles announced:
Today the L.A. City Attorney also unveiled nuisance abatement lawsuits against what it says are gang infested properties on Harpy's turf.
Federal authorities say that the defendants ran the gang's alleged drug and taxing enterprises to benefit a Mexican Mafia member, Danny Roman, who's serving life without parole in Pelican Bay.
He wasn't named in the action, but his daughter and her husband were. The U.S. Attorney's Office:
Danny Roman gives his daughter and son-in-law orders that direct gang members to engage in criminal conduct, including collecting “taxes” from businesses and gangs that are funneled back to Danny Roman in state prison. As charged in the indictment, the gang enforces the collection of “taxes” through threats of violence, including murder, for any business or gang that fails to pay or reports the collection of taxes to law enforcement.
Despite the 18 arrests this morning there are actually 29 defendants total (8 were already in custody) whom the office says were involved in …
… the distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin; the murder of a gang member who owed a debt to another gang member; robberies targeting USC students; and conspiracies to commit murder, including a plot to kill a witness in a state court case against a member of another gang.
The indictment also says Roman controlled the 38th Street gang and benefited from its taxing of vendors at Alameda Swap Meet in South L.A.
In the meantime the L.A. City Attorney's office today announced nuisance abatement lawsuits against three locations it says are “known for illegal activity.”
The properties include 2154 W. 28th St. and 1354 and 1356 West 25th St..
The office states that the gang's turf …
… extends from Washington Blvd. to the north, Figueroa Street to the east, Jefferson Blvd. to the south, and Normandie Ave. to the west.
Here's how feds say the gang's alleged racketeering operation worked:
Danny Roman's daughter and her husband receive orders from the imprisoned Mexican Mafia member during trips to Pelican Bay in Northern California. They in turn pass Danny Roman's orders to the “shot caller” and other high-ranking members of Harpys, who oversee drug sales and violent conduct within both Harpys territory and the broader area controlled by Danny Roman. The Harpys shot caller also controls and enforces the collection of tax payments from the Latino gangs under Danny Roman's control and issues orders to other gangs regarding drug sales and the use of violence.
As part of the two-and-a-half year “Operation Roman Empire” investigation, feds say they seized 8-and-a-half pounds of meth, a half pound of heroin, a pound of cocaine, 23 pounds of marijuana and 24 guns.
This morning 10 children had to be taken in by the county Department of Children and Family Services, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The U.S. Attorney's list of today's arrestees and the allegations against them is after the jump:
Vianna Roman, 37, of Los Angeles, who is Danny Roman's daughter;
Manuel Valencia, 36, of Walnut, the alleged shot caller of the Harpys gang;
Aaron Soto, 40, of Los Angeles, Vianna Roman's husband, who allegedly is one of the gang's leaders;
Jaime Montano, 32, of Los Angeles, who is linked to the East Side Trece gang and who allegedly led a conspiracy to murder a witness in a trial against another gang member;
Bryan Valencia, 26, of Los Angeles, who allegedly sold drugs and collected “taxes” from gangs under Danny Roman's control;
Eduardo Ramirez, 22, of Los Angeles, who allegedly supplied firearms and drugs to Harpys members;
Juan Delgado, 32, of Los Angeles, who allegedly collected taxes from gangs;
Carlos Delgado, 20, of Los Angeles, who allegedly assisted in the sale and delivery of methamphetamine;
Jimmy Ramos, 28, of Los Angeles, who allegedly sold methamphetamine and transported large amounts of cash;
Jorge Sanchez, 31, of Los Angeles, who is linked to the Florencia 13 gang and who allegedly sold methamphetamine;
Gwendolyn Etta, 34, of Los Angeles, who allegedly sold methamphetamine with Jorge Sanchez;
Marilyn Eta, 27, of Los Angeles, who allegedly assisted Manuel Bonilla in the sale of drugs and helped Bonilla hide from the police after Bonilla murdered a customer over a drug debt;
Mario Basulto, 27, of Victorville, who allegedly sold drugs and cellular telephones inside a California state prison;
Ronnie Orozco, 37, of Los Angeles, who is linked to the 38th Street gang and who allegedly oversaw the collection of taxes from the Alameda Swap Meet;
Angel Cenea, 22, of Hollywood, who is linked to the La Mirada Locos gang, and who allegedly attempted to smuggle drugs and cellular telephones into a California state prison;
Nancy Buckley, 28, of Los Angeles, who allegedly helped her husband, Iman Buckley, funnel drug proceeds to Danny Roman;
Denise Halawi, 41, of San Bernardino, who allegedly conspired in the sale of methamphetamine; and
Walter Alarcon, 36, of Los Angeles, an Eastside Playboys gang member who is charged by himself in an indictment that accuses him of distributing methamphetamine.