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70 Arrested in 3 States in Drug Sweep Against L.A.-Based Gangs

May 29, 1998| From a Times Staff Writer

An ongoing nationwide investigation into the flow of cocaine from Mexican drug cartels to Los Angeles-based street gangs resulted in the arrests early Thursday of about 70 suspected gang members in Los Angeles, Baltimore and Little Rock, Ark.

Those arrested had been secretly indicted by federal grand juries in Los Angeles and Little Rock on a variety of charges, including drug sales, money laundering and possession of illegal weapons.

Most were taken into custody in Little Rock, where one suspect was wounded when he allegedly drew a gun on a police SWAT team, authorities said. The suspect was shot in the hand and arm and treated at a hospital.

In the Los Angeles area, 13 reputed gang members were taken into custody by federal and local law enforcement officers, who also seized 21 kilograms of cocaine, a pound of marijuana, 13 firearms and $50,000 in cash.

The FBI said the Los Angeles gang members acquired the drugs from Mexican crime organizations in Los Angeles and resold it to middlemen in Little Rock and Baltimore.

In 1996, authorities broke up a similar operation that stretched from the Watts area to Minneapolis, Memphis, Tenn., and Jackson, Miss. The arrests Thursday are an outgrowth of that case, the FBI said.

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