Kidnap-Rape Probe Leads to Suspected Drug Lab

Times Staff Writer

Police on Friday raided four residences in the San Fernando Valley and Lompoc, where they arrested 13 suspected members of a motorcycle gang, seized weapons and uncovered an apparent narcotics laboratory in a garage, authorities said.

The early-morning raids were conducted as part of an investigation into the rape and kidnaping of a Northridge woman.

Those arrested are believed to be members of the Diablos, an "outlaw motorcycle gang" in Southern California with chapters in the Valley, Riverside and Lompoc, said Los Angeles police Lt. Bob Ruchoft of the Gang Activities Division.

Laboratory Raid

Five women and two men, ages 22 to 43, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture narcotics at a residence in the 7100 block of Sophia Avenue in Van Nuys, where police said they discovered a crude laboratory set up with the chemicals and equipment to make the drug methamphetamine, a strong stimulant.

About 30 rifles and handguns were taken from the house, along with explosive devices and four pounds of crystallized methamphetamine, police said.

The front and back of the Van Nuys house was a virtual junkyard of automobiles, motorcycle parts, a bus and furniture. Chemical drums and bottles, flasks and other containers were lined up outside the garage. A bookshelf laden with dozens of chemistry books was taken from inside the house.

"This is a typical biker mess," said Detective David Miller, standing amid the piles of debris. "Obviously the lab has been here for quite some time. It looks like this was used as a storage location."

Six More Arrested

At a second Van Nuys house, in the 17400 block of Chase Street, police arrested two men and two women, ages 23 to 33, on suspicion of kidnaping, rape and extortion. Two more suspects were arrested on suspicion of the same offenses at a Van Nuys apartment on Kester Street and at a house in Lompoc.

Detective Roseanne Perino said the raids culminated a three-week investigation into the rape and kidnaping. Perino said that, according to the victim's report, six people armed with guns and knives invaded her house about 10 p.m. on Feb. 21 and threatened to kill her 6-year-old son if she did not accede to their demands.

The woman allegedly was taken to Sepulveda and kept there for four hours, during which she was apparently forced into three acts of prostitution and raped by eight men, Perino said. The woman was then returned to her house and warned by her captors not to notify police, Perino said.

"She worked in a bar in Van Nuys where they hang out," Perino said. "For some reason, they developed a grudge against her. This was apparently their form of gang reprisal."

'Case Not Over'

Each of the seven persons arrested at the alleged drug laboratory on Sophia Avenue was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. Bail for the others was $200,000.

"We don't know yet who was involved in what," Perino said. "This case is not over yet."

There are about 30 members of the Diablo motorcycle gang in the San Fernando Valley, who largely support themselves by drug trafficking, Miller said.

"Methamphetamine is a very common street drug, and the bikers seem to have the corner on the market," Miller said.

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