10 reputed 18th Street gang leaders charged in drug, weapons case
Ten reputed “shot callers” of the notorious 18th Street gang were indicted Wednesday for suspected methamphetamine and gun trafficking in South Los Angeles, federal authorities said.
The nine men and one woman are leaders in the gang and played key roles in directing the illegal operations, according to authorities with the U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement office in Los Angeles.
The investigation was launched in February 2009 and involved undercover agents who allegedly bought drugs and firearms from gang members. Ten weapons were seized, including a gold-plated AK-47 assault rifle, federal authorities said.
For years, the 18th Street gang has been one of the largest street gangs in Los Angeles with cells, or cliques, across a number of neighborhoods. Gang leaders deported in the 1990s also helped spread the gang across Central America and into Mexico. The gang also has cells in cities across the United States.
Federal authorities said the investigation and indictments disrupted 18th Street activities in South Los Angeles.
“We’ve dealt a significant blow to several of the most well-established gang cliques,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the Immigration, Customs and and Enforcement office in Los Angeles.
Six of the reputed gang leaders were taken into custody Wednesday. One is already incarcerated on state charges and three are still at large.
Seven of the alleged leaders were identified by authorities as Wesley Aaron Arrendondo, 27, of Paramount; Martin Avila, 43, of Compton; Edward Diaz, 31, of Los Angeles; Sharon Paiz, 32, of Saugus; Ricardo Perez, 31, of Los Angeles; Joaquin Salcedo, 39, of Heperia and Aaron Ramos, 28, of Los Angeles.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.