The investigation, dubbed Operation 'Down the Rabbit Hole' used wiretaps and surveillance to uncover alleged evidence of extortion of businesses, violent robberies, burglaries, narcotics, and firearms trafficking.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a sweeping indictment of 28 individuals related to the South Los Angeles-based Eastside Playboys street gang.
The DOJ release says the FBI and a multi-agency Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs have been investigating the Eastside Playboys for the past four years.
As part of the overall racketeering enterprise, the indictments allege some defendants engaged in large-scale drug trafficking, including sending kilogram quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl through the United States Postal Service, FedEx and United Parcel Service.
Some defendants also allegedly distributed cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl powder and counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
“This case is the culmination of years of work by our agents and prosecutors, alongside our local law enforcement partners, to remove violent gang members from our streets and dismantle the criminal organizations that fuel violent crime,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland of the Justice Department. “The Justice Department has no tolerance for violent gangs that sow fear and terror in our communities, and we will continue to use every tool we have to stop them and bring them to justice.”
“One of our fundamental duties at the FBI is to protect the American people,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The law enforcement operations in the Los Angeles area today reflect only a portion of the work being done across the country and illustrate the FBI’s dedication to reducing violent crime in our nation, and combating the threats that gangs, violent actors, and criminal enterprises pose to our communities".
Seized in the operation were approximately 47 firearms, 199 kilograms of methamphetamine, 13.6 kilograms of fentanyl, 27 kilograms of cocaine, 7.6 kilograms of heroin, 283 kilograms of marijuana, and $140,000 in cash.
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States. To convict a defendant under RICO, the government must prove that the defendant engaged in two or more instances of racketeering activity and that the defendant directly invested in, maintained an interest in, or participated in a criminal enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
Not only does the RICO statute provide for criminal penalties including 20 years of prison, it can levy severe financial penalties.
Source: U.S Department of Justice
Source: NOLO Legal Encyclopedia