Twenty-eight alleged members and associates of a South Los Angeles street gang were arrested Thursday in a series of raids carried out by a multi-agency task force acting in response to federal indictments alleging crimes including racketeering, extortion of local businesses and drug and weapons trafficking.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, six indictments targeting the gang named 41 defendants, three of whom were already in custody and 10 of whom remain at large. In addition to the arrests, investigators also seized 47 firearms and varying quantities of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and marijuana, along with $140,000 in cash.
“This case is the culmination of years of work by our agents and prosecutors, alongside our local law enforcement partners, to remove violent gang members from our streets and dismantle the criminal organizations that fuel violent crime,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. “The Justice Department has no tolerance for violent gangs that sow fear and terror in our communities, and we will continue to use every tool we have to stop them and bring them to justice.”
Federal officials said the indictments and arrests were the result of a roughly four-year investigation — dubbed Operation Down the Rabbit Hole — by the FBI and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs.
One of the indictments alleges a wide-ranging racketeering scheme involving 18 defendants that included the mailing of various drugs through the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and United Parcel Service, with some suspects alleged to have distributed narcotics including fentanyl powder and counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The lead defendant in that indictment was identified as Eliseo Luna, 47, of South Los Angeles, who federal authorities described as a “shot caller” for the gang known as the Eastside Playboys.
Among the crimes alleged in the racketeering indictment was a March 2020 home-invasion robbery of a marijuana dealer’s Woodland Hills home. Authorities said the crime involved a gun battle between the victim and the suspects, who stole $50,000 in cash and about 10 pounds of marijuana. One of the robbers was shot in the stomach by the victim, federal officials said.
Defendants in the racketeering indictment also allegedly operated two unlicensed marijuana dispensaries, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Another of the indictments named 17 defendants accused of taking part in a drug-trafficking conspiracy, including 31-year-old Elvis Arreguin of San Pedro, who allegedly operated a Long Beach lab that processed fentanyl and meth.
Another indictment accused four defendants, including Francisco Soria, 29, of South Los Angeles, of distributing meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.
“Organized street gangs prey upon our communities with violence, intimidation and fear,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said in a statement. “Their tradecraft is furthered by the trafficking of dangerous firearms and narcotics. As in this case, and others, with strong federal partners and the support of our communities we are able to remove the distributors and root cause of such violence from of our neighborhoods.”