LOS ANGELES (CN) – Fifteen people were arrested Thursday in a roundup of three L.A.-area street gangs federal prosecutors say joined forces after a Mexican Mafia-ordered truce.
Arnold Gonzales assumed control of the Frogtown, Toonerville and Rascals gangs in the fall of 2010, from Pelican Bay State Prison, where he is serving a life sentence for murder, according to prosecutors.
Gonzales’ power grab was so effective a gang member laundered $133,000 into his prison bank account, prosecutors said at a Thursday press conference at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office in Glendale.
ATF Agent Carlos Canino said defendants Jorge Grey, 38, and Frutoso Mendoza, 31, are “still out on the street.” He urged anyone who sees them not to approach them and call 911.
Calling the street gangs “deeply entrenched” in the Atwater Village, Elysian Valley and other neighborhoods north of Dodgers stadium, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said the investigation began in late 2012.
He said officials hope the roundup “will eradicate this new criminal organization and will significantly disrupt criminal gang activity in affected neighborhoods along Interstate 5.”
Prosecutors said Grey, a Frogtown gang member, acted as Gonzales’ “shotcaller,” brokering a truce so that all three gangs could “tax” drug dealers in Northeast Los Angeles for the benefit of the Mexican Mafia.
According to a grand jury indictment, one of the indicted gang members, Manuel Vallejo, 43, compared the coalition to the “United Nations,” and boasted of a “New World Order” and “United Neighborhoods.”
Dugdale said the gangs had planned to expand their criminal activities into Antelope Valley.
The 27-count indictment charges 22 defendants with RICO violations and individual defendants with trafficking in methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, and weapons offenses.
Dugdale called the 2½-year RICO investigation, Operation Gig ’em, the “latest salvo” in the fight against gangs.
“We will continue our crackdown on criminal organizations like the Mexican Mafia and street gangs that do its bidding as long as they threaten our communities,” Dugdale said.
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