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27 seized in second phase of gang sweep

Arrests include 11 members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens street gang, which is at the center of a massive racketeering case dubbed Operation Knock Out.

July 09, 2009|Ruben Vives

Federal authorities on Wednesday announced the arrests of 11 additional members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens street gang, which is at the center of a massive racketeering case dubbed Operation Knock Out.

At least 16 members and associates from other gangs wanted on state and federal charges were also taken into custody in what federal officials said was the second phase of the operation. Federal agents also seized eight firearms, more than 400 rounds of ammunition, one pound of methamphetamine and an antiballistic vest during raids in four Southern California counties.

At least 90 members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang were taken into custody in May during a similar gang sweep that involved 1,400 local, state and federal officers.

Charges against those gang members were outlined in several indictments that accused them of murder, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and witness intimidation. The gang was also accused of racially motivated attacks against African Americans. So far, 132 of 192 gang members have been taken into custody since May, federal authorities said.

A federal investigation of the gang began after the fatal shooting of L.A. County Deputy Jerry Ortiz four years ago. Ortiz was killed by Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang member Jose Orozco, who was sentenced to death for the slaying.

"The experience of conducting the largest gang sweep in U.S. history has taught us the power of law enforcement joining together to target criminal organizations that cause so much pain in our communities," U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien said.

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

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