Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ICE: Missing In Action XI

A major Hispanic gang has been indicted by the United States for drug trafficking as well as civil rights violations for conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing of blacks in the City of Azusa.

LOS ANGELES – In a law enforcement action this morning that targeted the Varrio Azusa 13 street gang, 16 people were arrested pursuant to a federal indictment that alleges violations of the federal racketeering statute and a nearly 20-year conspiracy to violate the civil rights of African-Americans in the City of Azusa

In addition to the 16 federal arrests this morning, 23 of the defendants were already in custody and seven people were arrested on state narcotics charges, meaning that a total of 46 people linked to the Azusa 13 gang are now in custody in relation to Operation “Bright Lights Big City.” Authorities are seeking 12 fugitives named in the federal indictment.

Last week, a federal grand jury returned a 24-count indictment that charges a total of 51 defendants with a host of crimes, including conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to violate the civil rights of African-Americans. While prior federal cases targeting street gangs have included allegations of race-based violence, the case against the Azusa 13 gang marks only the second time in history that federal civil rights laws have been used against members of a criminal street gang.

Nearly two decades ago, the Azusa 13 gang adopted a racist principle “that members of the gang will harass and use violence to drive African-Americans out of the City of Azusa and would use violence in order to prevent African-Americans from moving into the City,” according to the indictment. Six of the defendants are charged in the civil rights conspiracy, which alleges a series of incidents in which African-Americans were harassed through racist graffiti and subjected to attacks that included beatings and robberies. The racist incidents alleged in the indictment span a period from 1992 until May 2010, when an African-American high school student was beaten as he walked home from school.

“The Azusa 13 gang waged a campaign of hate during a two-decade crime spree in which African-Americans were harassed and attacked,” said United States Attorney AndrĂ© Birotte Jr. “We hope that this federal case will signal the end of this racist behavior and will help vindicate all of the victims who have suffered over the years.”

Azusa Police Chief Robert B. Garcia said: “Today, we remember the victims of hate crimes and their families. Crimes based upon hatred are intolerable in our society and represent the worst in human behavior. Human beings who victimize others simply because of their race are criminals who will be punished.”

In addition to the RICO charge and the civil rights conspiracy count, the indictment alleges a long-running conspiracy to distribute narcotics, specifically heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. The Azusa 13 gang developed a “business plan” that outlined methods by which the gang would control the narcotics business in Azusa, according to the indictment. Under the business plan, members of Azusa 13 sought to “monopolize the entire drug market in the city of Azusa” through several means, including maintaining “top of the line artillery” and being prepared to kidnap relatives of wayward drug dealers.

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum stated, “The Azusa 13 street gang has impacted the San Gabriel Valley area for far too long. By joining with our law enforcement partners, this investigation has resulted in removing dangerous gang members and illegal drugs off our streets. Today’s arrests are an affirmative step to reducing the impact of violent drug gangs in our communities.”

As part of its narcotics operation, the gang extorted payments from street-level drug dealers in exchange for authorization to conduct business in Azusa 13 territory. The payments – known as “rent” or “tax” – were funneled to members of the Mexican Mafia who exerted control over the gang. The RICO charge in the indictment outlines the organizational structure of the gang, which has associates who obtain narcotics and weapons, street-level operatives, a top gang leader known as a “Keyholder,” and a member of the Mexican Mafia who has the power to issue orders and approve who fills the Keyholder position. The “13" in the gang’s name stands for the letter M and indicates the gang’s longtime affiliation with the Mexican Mafia.

“The alleged ‘tax’ payments made to the Mexican Mafia documented in this indictment demonstrate the hierarchy and organization of this criminal enterprise,” said Marcus E. Williams, acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS - Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office. “We play a unique role in federal law enforcement’s resolve to dismantle the criminal gang enterprises terrorizing our streets. Our agents target the profit and financial gains of these organizations, following the money in an effort to disrupt these organizations and bring their members to justice.”

Operation Bright Lights Big City is the result of an investigation that was conducted by the Los Angeles HIDTA Task Force, a federally funded group made up of federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the DEA and IRS-Criminal Investigation. The Azusa Police Department worked in conjunction with the Task Force during this investigation, which started in early 2008.

The High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program is designed to enhance and coordinate efforts among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Today’s crackdown on the Azusa 13 gang is the latest example of federal and local authorities joining forces to fight the most entrenched street gangs.

The 27 defendants charged in the RICO count face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Nearly all of the defendants named in the indictment face 10-year mandatory minimum penalties if they are convicted of charged narcotics offenses.

Those taken into custody this morning on federal charges will be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors intend to file writs to take into federal custody defendants named in the indictment who are currently in state custody.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

In addition to the HIDTA Task Force and the Azusa Police Department, the following agencies participated in the investigation into the Azusa 13 gang: the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the United States Marshals Service; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the Los Angeles County Probation Department; and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Several agencies provided support during the investigation, including LA IMPACT, the California Highway Patrol, the Arcadia Police Department, the Covina Police Department, the West Covina Police Department, the Baldwin Park Police Department, the Irwindale Police Department, the Glendora Police Department, and the Pasadena Police Department

Assisting in this morning’s takedown were the Hawthorne Police Department, the Monrovia Police Department, the Foothill Special Enforcement Team, the Ontario Police Department, the South Gate Police Department, the Bell Gardens Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department.

While several federal indictments in Los Angeles have made allegations of crimes targeting African-Americans, the case against Azusa 13 is only the second in which federal civil rights statutes have been used to address racist gang-related activity. In the first case, four members of the Avenues street gang received sentences of life without parole in federal prison for their roles in the racially motivated murders of two African-Americans in Highland Park (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/pressroom/pr2007/012.html).

This is reminiscent of the similar campaign by another Hispanic illegal aliens gang, Varrio Hawaiian Gardens, that was also engaging in ethnic cleansing against blacks. The most interesting aspect of the indictment of the Azusa 13 gang is that their campaign of ethnic cleansing, as well as their drug dealing, has gone on for decades. It appears that neither local law enforcement nor the Federal government thought that there was much of a problem for well on 20 years. They are certainly late for the party. No doubt a part of that was the increasing influence of Hispanic politicians who did not like the idea of seeing their fellow Mexicans arrested and prosecuted. Note that the Azusa Police Chief is Hispanic. I wonder why he waited for 20 years to address the problem of ethnic cleansing of blacks? Also of interest was the silence of not only the local black community leadership, but the national black leadership, such as the Reverends Al and Jesse.

It also appears that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who is so eager to expand their jurisdiction, was unmentioned by the USAO in the press release. Numerous local police departments were mentioned, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives and Really Big Fires (ATFE) were identified as the lead agencies, but no ICE. While the Azausa 13 is affiliated with the Mexican Mafia, a gang originally comprised of mainly nortenos or Mexican Americans, rather than immigrants, legal or illegal, that is not always the case now. The hard and fast division between nortenos and surenos, is not so strict in today's crime world, especially given the rise of revanchism in the Mexican American community. Undoubtedly the Azusa 13 has illegal alien members, and ICE obviously was unconcerned about that, nor concerned about the Azusa 13 drug trafficking as well. Unknown to the public, the DEA and ICE are engaged in a turf battle over drug trafficking investigations. ICE is slowly and surely challenging DEA's preeminence in the field, seeking to expand its authority and budget while at the same time it ignore's its primary mission, as established by Congress, to investigate illegal immigration. While ICE does have authority over some drug investigations, it is restricted by statute to those drug smuggling cases where there is a nexus to the initial and immediate crossing of the international border. The DEA on the other hand has legal authority to investigate all drug crimes, including those crimes where drugs crossed an international border. Once drugs have entered the U.S., ICE is supposed to pass off the investigation to the DEA, however, that rule is more observed in the breach. ICE is building a bureaucratic empire and it does not want immigration as part of their empire. The Obama Regime and the ICE leadership, headed by John Morton, want to make ICE and their new Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit, the largest and most powerful investigative agency in the Federal government, but they don't want immigration enforcement to be part of that. With Obama Regime support, they are challenging other Federal agencies, such as the DEA and FBI, for budget and authority. But they don't want to do the work so much, as to build an empire, and most certainly they don't want to do anything at all related to arresting illegal aliens, or enraging Obama's Hispanic support. That is probably why ICE did not want to participate in this particular party.

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