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Downtown Drug Gang Is Toppled

LAPD arrests 31 alleged leaders and seizes 45,000 heroin balloons.

10-month Investigation

March 15, 2007|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Detectives got lucky thanks to the growing number of downtown surveillance video cameras. Once they got a line on the middlemen who were bringing the drugs downtown, police used two dozen video cameras connected to the Central Division station to find their car license plates and track their movements. This eventually led them to the kingpins, Smith said.

Among those arrested, the LAPD identified Pedro Sanchez-Limon, also known as Hector Rodriguez, as the gang's leader and major supplier. They said Alberto Blanco, also known as "El Moro," was his right-hand man, and Jamie Chacon Diaz, also known as "Archie," was the gang's money collector. Abel Flores, also known as "Barbs," was identified as the gang's chief street enforcer. They face multiple charges of selling drugs and conspiracy.

Sanchez-Limon and Diaz had been deported previously but reentered the U.S. illegally, authorities said, and Blanco had been deported twice. Detectives said the gang leaders have long criminal histories.

Detectives admit that the downtown drug trade continues.

"While we haven't wiped out narcotics sales in the Central [station] area, we have put a major dent in them," said Capt. Jerry Szymanski, head of LAPD Narcotics.

"A lot has been said about us going after those users," he said. "Well, what we haven't been able to say is we have been going after a major supplier."

richard.winton@latimes.com

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