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FBI, ATF, and LAPD Announce Crack Down on Drugs, Ghost Guns, and Crime Linked to Cartels in Harbor Area

The multi-agency investigation, which found the criminal activities stretching to associates in two counties in Northern California, yielded a total of 27 arrests, 30 firearms, 72,115 fentanyl pills, 1.7 pounds of fentanyl powder, 143 pounds of methamphetamine, 4.7 pounds of heroin, 1.9 pounds of cocaine, 1.7 of pounds PCP, and $44,000.

Barrett Ward/Unsplash

A statewide bust by multiple law enforcement agencies that targeted an active, criminal L.A. street gang has resulted in the arrest of 27 suspects, in addition to the seizure of 30 weapons, including privately-produced ghost guns, as well as illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin, meth, fentanyl, and PCP.

The effort, dubbed Operation Safe Harbor, was announced by California Attorney General Rob Bonta yesterday at LAPD's Harbor Station in San Pedro, and was intended to stop or disrupt a statewide narcotics and firearm trafficking network involving a Harbor area gang that goes unnamed but is said to be connected to cartels in Mexico and the Mexican Mafia.

Operation Safe Harbor was led by the California Department of Justice’s Special Operation Unit, the LAPD, the CHP, the FBI, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, and the Tulare and Kern County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). The effort began on June 1 of this year. It ended with an operation on September 28, in which seven search warrants were served, resulting in 10 felony arrests and the recovery of 14 firearms, including two ghost guns and one short-barreled rifle, plus various amounts of assorted narcotics, $4,000, and two stolen vehicles.

"These arrests are the result of a continuing investigation into Mexican Mafia and cartel-affiliated street gangs which have plagued the Harbor area with violent crime, drugs, and illegal guns," said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. "The FBI will continue to devote resources to this strong law enforcement partnership with the goal of restoring safe streets for law-abiding citizens."

According to the official announcement, the overall investigation, which found the criminal activities stretching to associates in two counties in Northern California, yielded a total of 27 arrests, 30 firearms, 72,115 fentanyl pills, 1.7 pounds of fentanyl powder, 143 pounds of methamphetamine, 4.7 pounds of heroin, 1.9 pounds of cocaine, 1.7 of pounds PCP, and $44,000.

L.A. Councilman Tim McOsker tells Long Beach Press-Telegram: “Over the last nine months, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a vigil, gone to rosaries, been in church services, sat in living rooms of widows and children and (other) folks who have lost their loved ones to illegal guns on the streets and drugs. We are all in support of this effort, these joint activities."

Suspects arrested in the operation have been referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for the potential filing of felony charges, including transportation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, conspiracy to commit crime, and a felon in possession of a firearm.

The September 28 operation in the Harbor area follows two similar actions taken in 2023. Wilmington's Eastside Wilmas gang was targeted with a large raid last February, resulting in the seizure of 40 ghost guns, 20 assault weapons, and significant amounts of fentanyl, meth, and cocaine. Eastside and Westside Wilmas were also raided in May, resulting in the seizure of more guns and narcotics.

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