27 arrested in Ontario street gang sweep

by Alexandra Davis (LA Times)
April 21, 2010

Federal and state agents arrested 27 people Wednesday in an operation targeting an Ontario street gang with alleged ties to the Mexican Mafia, prosecutors said.

The suspects are accused of drug trafficking, racketeering and other violent crimes for the Black Angels, a gang with about 450 members across the city, including subgroups known as the Junior Black Angels and Ontario Varrio Sur.

Prosecutors said the gang smuggles and distributes methamphetamine and heroin, including in prisons for the benefit of incarcerated Mexican Mafia and Black Angels members. They also allegedly recruit high school students and collect “taxes” from dealers in exchange for permission to operate in gang-controlled territory.

“Our citizens deserve to live without fear and intimidation inflicted by violent drug gangs,” said Timothy J. Landrum, special agent in charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration, in a statement released Wednesday. “Today’s arrests should significantly impact the violent drug-related activity spreading throughout the Ontario area.”

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned two indictments against the Black Angels in recent weeks, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. The main indictment names 50 defendants, 36 of whom are charged under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, the statement said.

Among the alleged offenses are transporting narcotics from Mexico into the United States, shooting at police during a high-speed chase, the armed robbery of a convenience store and the killing of a Black Angels member who ran afoul of the gang.

The indictment also includes charges of violent crimes in aid of racketeering, conspiracies to distribute heroin and methamphetamine and firearms violations.

Ten additional suspects are charged in a separate indictment with narcotics trafficking violations. Prosecutors said 25 of those named are already in custody and authorities are looking for eight others.

At least four members of the Mexican Mafia are believed to belong to the Black Angels, prosecutors said. They include Armando “Mando” Barajas, 46, of Pomona, who is accused of controlling the gang’s activities. He was arrested Wednesday morning and was expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Riverside in the afternoon.

About 400 federal and local law enforcement personnel participated in Wednesday’s sweep, which took place before dawn in Ontario and surrounding areas, including Los Angeles.

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