LOS ANGELES – Law enforcement authorities this morning arrested 25 members and associates of the San Fernando Valley-based Vineland Boys street gang who are charged in five federal grand jury indictments that allege a wide range of criminal activity, including shootings and assaults that targeted rivals, extortion and methamphetamine trafficking.
The five indictments charge a total of 45 defendants. The main indictment alleges that 31 Vineland Boys members and associates participated in a criminal enterprise and conspired to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. To consolidate control over their “territory” in Sun Valley, North Hollywood and Burbank, the gang shot and brutally assaulted rival gang members, controlled and conducted drug and firearms trafficking activity, and extorted money in the form of “taxes” from drug dealers, and trafficked narcotics, the indictment alleges.
The RICO indictment details numerous violent incidents involving the gang, including an April 2016 incident where a rival gang member was shot on Lankershim Boulevard. The investigation revealed that the gang was heavily armed and often engaged in illegal firearm sales. One non-gang defendant allegedly manufactured “ghost guns” – AR-15-type weapons with no serial numbers, which makes them untraceable – that were sold to the gang to use in crimes because so many members were prohibited from legally purchasing firearms due their prior felony convictions.
The RICO indictment unsealed today detail multiple narcotics transactions, including two that each involve approximately two pounds of methamphetamine.
The other four indictments cumulatively charge 14 other defendants with supplying methamphetamine to the Vineland Boys, with some transactions taking place near an elementary school.
Today's arrests come 14 years after law enforcement severely disrupted the Vineland Boys with a series of federal indictments that came in the wake of the 2003 murder of Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka and the attempted murder of his partner, Detective Greg Campbell. Those indictments resulted in more than four dozen convictions, and led to two defendants receiving sentences of life without parole in federal prison.
“Our first attack on this street gang dealt punishing blow to its operations and sent a message that law enforcement would not tolerate their violent acts and drug trafficking,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “Unfortunately, a new generation of gangsters has come of age and tried to revive the organization's control of drug trafficking through violence. This takedown will provide significant relief to the law-abiding residents of the east San Fernando Valley, and it sends a strong message to the gang that we will continue our efforts to crush their organization until they no longer pose any threat.”
“The tools of the gang trade are intimidation, violent crime and extortion,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “By announcing these distinct operations with our law enforcement partners, we hope to show that these tactics – and these gangs – are not tolerated in Los Angeles.”
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The 25 defendants arrested today are scheduled to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court.
In addition to the today's arrests, 11 defendants were already in custody. Authorities are continuing to search for nine fugitives, four of whom are believed to be currently in Mexico.