Cash, weapons and armor seized in pre-dawn raid targeting drug trafficking ring
First, undercover police officers bought cocaine, PCP and meth from street dealers in southwest Los Angeles.
Then, investigators worked their way up the hierarchy of the Black P-Stone gang, gathering enough intelligence to prepare search or arrest warrants for alleged mid- to high-level gang leaders.
And in the pre-dawn hours Thursday morning, Los Angeles Police Department officers fanned out across Baldwin Village and nearby areas, arresting 15 people and seizing an array of guns, drugs and body armor, as well as more than $12,000 in cash.
The operation, called “No Stone Love,” began in December after an increase in shootings, robberies and burglaries, and was completed in under three months. Those arrested included 79-year-old Clyde Bailey, nicknamed “Pops,” and three men in their 60s.
Investigators will try to link the assault weapons, handguns, shotguns and rifles to recent homicides and shootings. They believe the Black P-Stones are responsible for a quarter of the gang-related crimes in the area.
The drugs seized included two kilos of rock and powder cocaine valued at $50,000, along with a pound of marijuana and three ounces of PCP.
“We’ve made the community safer. These guns will no longer be used in other crimes,” Capt. Darnell Davenport of the LAPD’s Southwest Division said at a news conference Thursday. “The marijuana and cocaine and other drugs you see here will not be sold to community members.”
Those arrested Thursday morning are suspected of controlling the narcotics trade in the Baldwin Village area, which has long been Black P-Stones turf and is also known as Lower Baldwin Hills or the Jungle.
The suspects were arrested on gun or drug charges, but LAPD officials expect to add more serious charges for some of them.
“Since these people will be in jail, we hope, for a long period of time, we will see a significant reduction in violent crime in that community and the sales of narcotics,” Davenport said.
The weapons and armor seized in the raids demonstrate a high level of sophistication and include shields capable of deflecting ammunition from high-powered firearms, LAPD officials said.
The undercover drug buys that launched the operation were higher-end, too — about $200 each, said Officer James Moon, who works narcotics in the Southwest Division.
Some high-level Black P-Stone leaders are still at large, but officials said the arrests have created gaps in the leadership structure of the gang, which has about 250 active members.
“This has a significant impact,” Moon said. “Some of those supplying narcotics and guns are completely out of the equation.”
The group picked up Thursday was noteworthy for the advanced age of some members. In addition to Bailey, those arrested included Vincent Pheine, 66; Michael “Money Mike” Lofton, 62; and Kenneth “Popeye” Harrison, 61.
Michael “Tank” Boddie, 37, was one of the leaders despite being a younger member, Moon said. Court records show that in 2006, Boddie was sentenced to four years in prison for an assault with a firearm.
Lt. Byron Roberts, who is in charge of the Southwest Gang Impact Team, said older crews like this one tend to focus on running criminal business enterprises rather than engaging in gang feuds.
“These were the ones making the money,” Roberts said. “They’re not doing the drive-bys, the gangbanging.”
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