INGLEWOOD (CNS) - Ten members and associates of an Inglewood-based street gang were arrested overnight and today on federal drug-trafficking and weapons charges alleging they used a fake convenience store as a front for manufacturing crack and distributed the drugs in Inglewood and South Los Angeles.
The indictment targets the leadership and key members of a Crips- affiliated street gang that allegedly manufactured and distributed crack cocaine from the Stop and Shop Market in an Inglewood strip mall on South Prairie Avenue, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
After cooking and packaging the crack at the store, the gang allegedly delivered drugs to customers at a variety of locations, including at a U.S. VETS office and the Social Security office in Inglewood, authorities said.
Paul Delacourt, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said during a news conference at Inglewood City Hall drug sales took place “on a near daily basis” out of the Stop and Shop over at least two years.
“This is an investigation to take out the top tier of a specific local gang which had morphed into a criminal enterprise, so we think we've made a significant impact on that gang here in Inglewood and we're suspecting the community will be safer as a result,” Delacourt said.
Delacourt said the convenience store was operating solely as a front for the drug operation. Law enforcement raided the shop Tuesday night, arresting five people named in the federal indictment. The remaining arrests were made during Wednesday morning raids.
The gang members and their associates “used violence and intimidation, including firearms, to maintain and expand their drug-dealing territory, to protect themselves, their drugs, and their drug proceeds from rival gangs and drug-dealing organizations, and to collect payment from drug customers,” according to the indictment.
The indictment, filed in Los Angeles federal court, charges 15 defendants, 10 of whom were arrested Tuesday and Wednesday. Of the remaining five defendants, one was already in state custody, and four remain at large.
The four outstanding suspects were identified as Andre Bailey, 43; Steven Edwards, 20; Delshawn Johnson, 41; and Carnisha Connors, 29.
The 16-count indictment charges all 15 defendants in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. The indictment also charges various defendants with maintaining a drug-involved premises; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of crack cocaine; possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime; and felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
The lead defendants in the indictment are Glen Dwight “Big Luck” Love, 46, of Pasadena; Deshay Lewann “Shay Bone” King, 45, of South Los Angeles; and Wiley Venoy “Slim” Ivory II, 38, an Inglewood resident who was already in state custody on unrelated charges.
Prosecutors contend the trio ran the Stop and Shop that was nothing more than a drug processing and storage facility.
According to the indictment, several defendants “discussed attempting to make the shop look like an actual retail store and getting window signs to tell drug customers and co-conspirators when to avoid going into the shop.”
If convicted of all charges, each of the defendants would face decades in federal prison. The conspiracy count alone carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life without parole, prosecutors said.