Twenty-one members of the notorious MS-13 gang were rounded up Wednesday morning in various locations throughout Los Angeles. The pre-dawn raid was conducted by the FBI, ATF, and LAPD as part of a three-year racketeering investigation.
A 41-count federal indictment in the case, which lists 44 defendants, was unsealed Wednesday. In addition to those arrested today, 20 have already been arrested, and three are listed as fugitives. Three of the men arrested are facing federal murder charges.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike said that more than half of those involved were in the country illegally.
According to one of the officers involved, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the targets were under 24-hour surveillance for days prior to the raid, and at least three of the locations raided were known “casitas”:
[Casitas are a] makeshift brothel/ saloon of sorts. They engage in prostitution, gambling, narcotics and alcohol sales, cock fights, et cetera, right in the middle of neighborhoods.
The women are usually “sex slaves,” illegal immigrants, who are expected to service the customers for cash, but the women don’t get it. They have to pay off their “debt” for being smuggled here. There is usually a mattress on the floor in a vacant room used specifically for sex.
According to the officer, MS-13 usually takes over a rental property for this purpose so there are no property records and they can leave quickly.
At one casita located in a dilapidated warehouse near downtown, seven people were found locked in a room and are suspected human trafficking victims.
LA Police Chief Charlie Beck said the immigration status of the perps wasn’t of concern today because of the nature of the charges against them, but…
“These are criminals. Regardless of their immigration status they are going to go to prison. If they ever get out…their immigration status may become an issue, but it has nothing to do with their arrest today.”
Excuse me? Thank goodness these guys are going federal, because that means ICE will be notified when they are released, and there won’t be any of Beck’s “sanctuary” BS to deal with.
As we reported in January, in Beck’s jails, even these types of felons- people here illegally, who have committed violent crimes – will not be detained for ICE unless, in addition to detainer paperwork, there is a signed warrant from a judge or a judicial determination of probable cause for the detainer.
Even then, jail employees are not allowed to honor the detainer without express approval from the Custody Services Commanding Officer, according to the memo exclusively obtained by RedState.
And repeat felons who have violated United States Code Title 8, Section 1326(a) – meaning they’ve already been convicted of an aggravated felony deported, then returned again – cannot be detained, arrested, or booked by LAPD officers for an immigration crime without a federal warrant.
Under the memo’s terms, if one of the gang members rounded up today was convicted of a violent felony, served their sentence, was deported, and then came back to Los Angeles and committed another crime, LAPD jail staff would not be allowed to honor a detainer without these extra steps – which take time and manpower to effect and aren’t always able to be done in time.
Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra Brown said the Wednesday’s arrests dealt a “critical blow to the top leadership.” Well, at least for a little while, with Beck’s policies ruling the day.