'Mexican Mafia' investigation leads to 12 arrests, multiple firearms and drugs seized
LOS ANGELES - Officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday announced the arrests of a dozen high-profile members of the "Mexican Mafia" as part of a joint investigation targeting drug trafficking and illegal firearms.
According to a statement by the LAPD, the investigation began in Oct. 2022, zeroing in on the Westside Wilmas criminal gang within Los Angeles' Harbor area.
Authorities said multiple search warrants were executed Wednesday throughout the South Bay and as far away as Bakersfield.
Seven of those arrested are among 10 suspects named across three criminal complaints filed in Los Angeles federal court. One defendant is in state custody, and law enforcement continues to search for three others. Authorities arrested an additional four defendants on state charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In relation to charges unsealed Wednesday, authorities allegedly seized 23 firearms, 57.7 pounds of methamphetamine, about 23,000 fentanyl pills, 5.2 pounds of powdered fentanyl and 2.2 pounds of cocaine.
Prior to the arrests, 11 suspected Harbor-area gang members and associates were charged with federal drug, firearms and Hobbs Act robbery crimes. Three of those defendants already have been convicted and sentenced, receiving prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years, prosecutors said.
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According to an affidavit filed with one of the complaints, the task force has investigated highly placed members and associates of two Harbor-area gangs who were suspected of being involved in a host of illegal activities. Both gangs are based in Wilmington, near the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said the gangs commit their crimes under the direction and authority of the Mexican Mafia, a California prison gang that controls many of the Latino street gangs in Southern California.
One Mexican Mafia associate directs firearm and drug sales on the street from prison despite being sentenced to death for murder, prosecutors said.
The complaint affidavit alleges that from last October to February, reputed local gang member and Mexican Mafia associate Patricia Amelia Limon, 53, of Lomita, fulfilled seven drug and firearm deals under the direction of the Mexican Mafia associate on death row. Limon personally, and at least once through an intermediary, supplied methamphetamine, fentanyl, firearms and ammunition to a buyer and collected money on behalf of the Mexican Mafia member, court papers allege.
The affidavit further alleges that Jesus Chuy Delgado, 46, of San Pedro, who reputedly is a high-ranking Harbor-area gang member, engaged in a series of methamphetamine and firearms sales, including several in January and February that allegedly occurred across the street from a high school and a middle school in San Pedro.
Delgado allegedly sold firearms -- including semi-automatic weapons lacking a serial number, commonly known as ghost guns -- and 1.95 pounds of methamphetamine while on parole, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
If convicted, Limon and Delgado would face a sentence of up to life in federal prison.
The arrests are the latest development in a violence reduction effort begun three years ago by a joint FBI and Los Angeles Police Department task force that targeted gang activity in the Harbor area.
City News Service contributed to this report.