The FBI announced it made 11 additional arrests this morning tied to a Hawaiian Gardens gang, upping the number of defendants to 24 in the final phase of the nation's largest-ever gang investigation and prosecution that included the participation of Orange County law enforcement agencies and is credited with taking more than 300 gang-bangers off Southern California streets.
Dubbed "Operation Knock Out" and involving agencies in four Southern California counties, the sweeping racketeering investigation allegedly uncovered a drug pipeline to and from members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang. In the latest and final phase of the investigation, authorities seized eight firearms, more than 400 rounds of ammunition, one pound of methamphetamine and a ballistic vest.
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All tolled, federal authorities have unsealed indictments charging 192 defendants, 132 of whom have been taken into custody. Combined with charges associated with the probe that were filed in state court, Operation Knock Out has taken more than 300 gang members and associates have been swept up, according to the FBI.
"This extremely successful investigation has led to a series of federal indictments against nearly 200 defendants who face the potential of lengthy prison sentences in federal penitentiaries, where there is no parole," said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien. "The experience of conducting the largest gang sweep in U.S. history has taught us the power of law enforcement joining together to target criminal organizations that cause so much pain in our communities."
Other gangs that have been swept up include East Side Paramount, 18th Street, Morton Town Stoners, Santanas, Carmelas, Varrio Grape Street Watts, Compton T-Flats and Nazi Low-Riders. The investigation into the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang began after the fatal shooting of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Ortiz, who was gunned down four years ago by a gang member he was attempting to arrest.
Among the area agencies that provided support during investigations and operations were: Long Beach Police Department, Buena Park Police Department, Costa Mesa Police Department and the Joint Forces Training Base at Los Alamitos.