Dozens of Reputed Gang Members, Associates Nabbed in Crackdowns

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - About three dozen reputed members and associates of a pair of street gangs -- one based in the San Fernando Valley and the other in South Los Angeles -- were arrested today in connection with a series of federal indictments alleging racketeering, weapons violations and drug trafficking.

In the case targeting the San Fernando Valley gang, a total of 45 defendants were named in five indictments. The main case alleges that 31 members of the gang took part in racketeering activity to control turf in Sun Valley, North Hollywood and Burbank by attacking rival gang members and extorting ``taxes'' from drug dealers.

Among the acts alleged in the indictment are the April 2016 shooting of a rival gang member on Lankershim Boulevard, the manufacture of untraceable ``ghost guns'' without serial numbers sold to gang members and mass sales of methamphetamine.

Prosecutors said 25 members of the San Fernando Valley-based gang were arrested Wednesday, while another 11 were already in custody and a search was continuing for the remaining nine defendants, four of whom are believed to be in Mexico.

The U.S. Attorney's Office noted that the crackdown was a follow-up to a series of indictments targeting the same gang 14 years ago following the 2003 killing of Burbank police Officer Matthew Pavelka.

In a separate crackdown, 13 alleged members and associates of a South Los Angeles-based street gang were arrested Wednesday. The suspects were among 36 defendants named in six federal indictments targeting the gang, which is also accused of racketeering and weapons violations, along with trafficking in methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.

The indictment alleges, among other offenses, that members of the gang engaged in illegal gambling, attempted murder and assault, and also tried to smuggle drugs in state prisons and Los Angeles County jails, with two shipments of heroin allegedly mailed to an imprisoned member of the Mexican Mafia.

Federal prosecutors contend the lead defendant in the South Los Angeles gang indictment -- 47-year-old Leonel Laredo -- is imprisoned in Beaumont, Texas, but directed the gang's activities in the South Los Angeles area, as well as in Lynwood, Maywood and Bell.

Of the 36 defendants targeted in the South Los Angeles gang case, 13 were arrested Wednesday, 16 were already in custody and seven remain at large.

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