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83 Members of the ‘Mexican Mafia’ Charged for Drug Trafficking in L.A. County Jails

9:40 AM PDT on May 29, 2018

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] federal grand jury has charged 83 members of the Mexican Mafia — also known as La Eme — for running a drug trafficking ring and ensuing violence from inside the Los Angeles County jails as a result of a massive operation three years in the making.

The members were charged in two federal racketeering indictments. One of the indictments describes how members of the Mexican Mafia were able to extort prisoners inside the L.A. County jail system and control the smuggling of drugs and narcotic sales, the United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California announced in a statement. Of the 83 charged, 32 defendants were taken into custody and 35 defendants are already in state prison.

The Mexican Mafia is a large prison gang with ties and influence among gangs throughout Southern California. In April, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Mexican Mafia instructed East L.A. gang members to execute a racially charged fire-bombing in the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects.

The indictments “detail the power structure of the Mexican Mafia and its violent exercise of authority over Latino street gangs in Southern California and inside the sprawling LACJ,” the statement said.

RELATED: Supreme Court Orders California to Release 30,000 Prisoners

The alleged criminal violations violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO.)

“These cases have delivered a major blow to the Mexican Mafia and leaders of many of the street gangs under the control of the organization,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said. “By taking out the gang members who control the jails, and by disrupting their communications network, we undermined the Mexican Mafia’s ability to coordinate street gang activity.”

The operation was three years in the making and was a collaboration between the FBI, the LASD, the Pomona Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell praised the work of the LASD via Twitter.

“The FBI case agent told me the agency couldn’t have done this without you,” he tweeted.

#LASD It was an honor to hear all the great things our federal partners had to say about your determination and integrity to see this operation through to the indictments. The #FBI case agent told me the agency couldn’t have done this without you.

— Jim McDonnell (@LACoSheriff) May 24, 2018

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