LOS ANGELES – U.S. federal grand juries have issued nine indictments that charge a total of 13 defendants in Southern California with firearms and narcotics violations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
It is the result of a seven-month investigation by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and officers with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
During an early morning operation Monday, authorities arrested 10 of the federal defendants. Two of the defendants under indictment are currently fugitives and one defendant is already in state custody.
Wednesday morning’s operation also resulted in the seizure of 13 additional firearms, approximately two and one-half pounds of methamphetamine, approximately a quarter pound of crack cocaine, and approximately quarter pound of heroin.
In addition to the 13 federal defendants, authorities have arrested eight other defendants who are expected to be prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
From February through July, the joint ATF-LAPD operation called Crime Area Gun Enforcement (CAGE) targeted violent offenders, gang members and previously convicted felons and their associates who were suspected of being involved in illegal firearm possession and sales, as well as narcotics distribution, in the San Fernando Valley.
Investigators used confidential informants as part of an undercover operation in which ATF agents purchased contraband.
As a result of the CAGE operation, authorities have seized approximately 20 pounds of methamphetamine and 40 weapons, including restricted firearms such as short-barrel rifles and silencers.
The investigation also uncovered two locations where AR-15- and AK-47-type rifles were being clandestinely manufactured or illegally sold.
“This operation has removed dangerous drugs from the black market and has shut off a source of illegal firearms that can cause so much violence and damage in our neighborhoods,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker.
“Criminals who engage in the illegal trafficking of drugs and guns can and should expect to be prosecuted, especially when they have previously been convicted of similar crimes.”
“ATF is committed to reducing violent crime,” said Eric Harden, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Los Angeles Field Division.
“ATF accomplishes this by working with LAPD and identifying and targeting criminal organizations and the persons responsible for perpetrating violence in our communities.”
“There is no doubt that removing guns from our streets and arresting criminals who use and carry guns prevents senseless violence in our communities,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
“Removing even one gun from the streets means one less Angeleno robbed, shot, or murdered. Removing illegal guns is one of the LAPD’s highest priorities and working with our federal partners will help make our communities safer.”