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U.S. Indicts 22 in Probe of Mexican Mafia : Crime: The action targets members and affiliates of the prison gang from its reputed godfather to street-level enforcers. Document paints a chilling picture of L.A. underworld.

May 02, 1995|ROBERT J. LOPEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Drive-by shootings have gone down," Block said, "but street killings have not."

The Sheriff's Department does not have separate statistics for Latino gang-related drive-by shootings. But in 1994, according to sheriff's data, there were 121 Latino gang killings in areas patrolled by sheriff's deputies--up from 80 the year before.

In the past year, Block said, the Mexican Mafia has attempted to instill discipline in Latino inmates in the county jail system through strict hygiene and cleanliness rules. Latino inmates have been required to shave and cut their hair short and keep their cells clean, Block said.

"They even requested ironing boards," he said, "so they could press their uniforms."

It was in County Jail in October, 1993, Block said, that his deputies realized the organization was making serious moves. The Sheriff's Department informed federal authorities, and the task force was created in November, 1993.

The indictment announced Monday charges that Mexican Mafia members have held meetings from Pomona to South-Central Los Angeles. Much of the activity, according to the indictment, has been ordered by gang members from County Jail and the state penal system.

In one instance, the indictment charges that Gallardo and two associates kidnaped a local drug dealer who failed to pay $85,000 in "taxes." They eventually let him go after he agreed to pay four kilos of cocaine to settle the score, the indictment said.

In January, an Eastside gang member complained about his gang having to give the Mexican Mafia guns when they already had forked over more than $10,000 in drug taxes, the indictment said.

To deal drugs in a two-block area near 3rd Street in the Westlake district near Downtown Los Angeles, the indictment charged, drug dealers were required to pay the Mexican Mafia $15,000.

"This was an attempt to get at the core leadership," Chief Williams said of the indictments. "(But) work has to continue, and it is never done."

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