More than 30 members of a powerful Los Angeles street gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury as part of two investigations involving the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and L.A. County authorities that officials said have uncovered strong ties between one of Mexico's drug cartels and the Mexican Mafia prison gang.
Two separate indictments were announced Tuesday.
One indictment revealed an alleged alliance between the Mexican Mafia prison gang and the Mexican drug cartel known as La Familia Michoacána. The seven-count indictment names six members of the Mexican Mafia, three associates of the prison gang, and four people directly linked to La Familia Michoacána.
The indictment outlines a venture called the "Project." Cartel members were given "free reign" to sell methamphetamine in Southern California and to provide protection for incarcerated cartel members in exchange for money and methamphetamine going to Mexican Mafia members, according to the indictment.
"Today's salvo against the Mexican Mafia is part of a 20-year fight to curb the influence of the prison gang both inside prison walls and on the streets of Southern California," U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. said in a statement.
Authorities said they seized more than 600 pounds of methamphetamine during the investigation.
The second indictment charged nearly three dozen members of the Florencia 13 gang with racketeering and drug and weapons dealing. Some are also allegedly members of Mexican Mafia prison gang.
Key members of the Florencia 13 gang are already being held at the maximum security prison in Pelican Bay but continue to operate the gang through smuggled instructions and work hand in hand with the Mexican Mafia prison gang, according to the Aug. 1 indictment.
The gang controls swaths of Los Angeles County and in each territory sets up outposts to deal drugs and operate illegal gambling, prosecutors allege.
The gang and members of the Mexican Mafia also set up schemes to smuggle narcotics in the Los Angeles County jail system for inmates so that the Mexican Mafia can control the inmates within the facility like foot soldiers, according to the indictment.
ATF Special Agent Steven J. Bogdalek in Los Angeles and Birrotte are expected to provide more details of how the prison gang initiated the alliance with the drug cartel at a news conference Tuesday