The Los Angeles County district attorney's office Wednesday said there is insufficient evidence to charge three alleged Van Nuys gang members with conspiring to kill "two or three" Los Angeles police officers on New Year's Eve in what authorities contended was threatened retribution for a police crackdown on the gang's drug dealing.
The holiday passed with no attacks on police officers. Two of the three men were charged Wednesday with lesser offenses and the third was released with no charges filed.
Officials said they believe the threat to police was real but they could not prosecute without endangering two informants about the alleged plot.
Even were the informants to testify, there would not have been enough evidence to prosecute the case, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Shellie Samuels.
One of the three men arrested for the alleged plot, Hector Martinez Aleman, 19, of Van Nuys, was charged Wednesday with a felony charge of possession of a sawed-off shotgun that police found when they searched the homes of four alleged gang members Saturday.
The city attorney's office filed misdemeanor charges of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and possession of fireworks--also found during Saturday's search--against a second man, Sergio Camarena, 18, of Sylmar. The case was referred by the district attorney's office, said Deputy City Atty. Richard A. Schmidt.
No charges were brought against Cesar Reveles, 18, of Van Nuys, arrested in connection with the alleged conspiracy plot.
A special bulletin was issued on Dec. 9 advising officers to be especially careful on New Year's Eve because of the suspected plot, which came to light through information from the two informants and in flyers posted on telephone poles and lampposts in Van Nuys, police said.
One flyer was found in the lobby of the Van Nuys police division station, said Samuels.
The flyers read: "Stupid Gringo Cops. We don't want an education but we will give you an education. We will sell our drugs and you will stay off Calvert Street or you will feel our lead! Catch us if you can gringo."
Police said some officers had also been receiving telephoned death threats since September.
Experts said the Calvert Street area, only blocks from the police station, is the home of a "known violent gang" that deals in heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
Saturday morning, 34 officers armed with search warrants raided four apartments and arrested the three men. Police were searching for a rifle with a scope which one informant said the gang members planned to use in the plot. But the only rifle found with a scope was an air rifle, which shoots only BBs, Samuels said.
Aleman was freed Sunday on $1,000 bail and the other two men were released Wednesday, Samuels said.