Feds arrest 28 suspects in sweeping SoCal gang takedown

Authorities arrested 28 people linked to a South Los Angeles street gang Thursday on suspicion of federal racketeering, narcotics, extortion and firearms offenses. Ten suspects remain at large.

Members and associates of the gang, called the Eastside Playboys, were arrested as part of six grand jury indictments that stemmed from a four-year investigation called Operation Down the Rabbit Hole, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. The Eastside Playboys allegedly have ties to the Mexican Mafia prison gang and prosecutors say they have wreaked havoc in South LA and surrounding communities for 50 years.

“Members and associates of this gang have built a criminal enterprise by trafficking in guns and deadly drugs, by extorting business owners, and by terrorizing victims with violent assaults and robberies,” said Amir Ehsaei, the acting assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, in a news release.

Investigators seized nearly 50 guns, $140,000 in cash, 624 pounds of marijuana and almost 440 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as various amounts of fentanyl, cocaine and heroin. Prosecutors also allege the gang operated two unlicensed marijuana dispensaries, and a drug lab in West Long Beach where they manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine out of a warehouse at Gaylord Street and Caspian Avenue

“Organized street gangs prey upon our communities with violence, intimidation and fear,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said in the release. “Their tradecraft is furthered by the trafficking of dangerous firearms and narcotics.”

One of the six indictments calls the gang a criminal enterprise under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and charges 18 defendants. The indictment includes accusations about the gang’s involvement in a March 2020 home invasion robbery of a marijuana dealer at a home in Woodland Hills, as well as the attempted murder of a gang member who was stabbed for betraying the group.

The 28 defendants arrested Thursday are expected to be arraigned in federal court in Los Angeles.

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