On Wednesday, federal agents arrested 25 Mexican Mafia-tied “Big Hazard” street gang members known for bogus complaints against police officers, threats against black Americans, illegal weapons sales and assault of local residents who cooperate with law enforcemen. A large multi-agency federal investigation led to the indictment of 38 suspects for racketeering, and the law enforcement operation involved 800 agents and officers leading to 25 arrests.
Newly unsealed indictment documents detailed Big Hazard members’ and associates’ criminal activity back to 2007, including threats made against African-American residents of Ramona Gardens, which includes graffiti tagging with phrases such as “no blacks.”
Big Hazard gang members have also allegedly lodged bogus complaints against police as a tactic to thwart police detection of the criminal enterprises’ principal business, drug trafficking.
Of the 38 defendants, seven had already been detained, and one was killed last weekend.
Big Hazard is described in a U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), Central District of California release as, “a multi-generational street gang that has brought murder, extortion, robbery and other crimes to Boyle Heights for the past 70 years.” Officials estimate that there are 350 members engaged in the gang.
Big Hazard is closely aligned with the Mexican mafia, according to the USAO district office.
Lead defendant Manuel Larry “Cricket” Jackson is a Mexican Mafia member and oversees Big Hazard gang operations, according to the 45-count indictment. Other members are accused of a “wide variety of crimes,” including drug trafficking and “taxing” drug dealers while under Jackson’s control. Jackson and other Mexican Mafia members allegedly receive a portion of these revenues.
“Because of defendant Jackson’s power as a Mexican Mafia member and his connection to Hazard, Hazard members and associates have unique authority to engage in criminal activities, such as the sales of drugs and firearms outside of Hazard territory without the risk of violent reprisal that Latino gang members ordinarily would suffer for engaging in such criminal activities in territories controlled by other Latino gangs,” the indictment details. Allegedly the gang “is continually engaged in the distribution of methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), cocaine, cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine, heroin, and other controlled substances.”
“Much of the conduct is alleged in a racketeering charge that outlines a conspiracy to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act,” states the USAO release.
Wednesday’s arrests are the result of an investigation that involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and IRS – Criminal Investigation. These agencies coordinated with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Alhambra Police Department.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana