Report: Gangs Operate Within LA County Sheriff’s Department

Report: Gangs Operate Within LA County Sheriff's Department Officers from Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department help guide a driver and vehicle onto RV leveling ramps. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 15 September 2021 12:41 PM

At least four gangs operate and recruit within the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, a new report says.

Recent reforms intended to ban such illicit groups have failed to do so, according to a report commissioned by L.A. County, Rolling Stone reported Tuesday.

The county's report scolds a department that "either can't or won't" manage a problem that undermines the legitimacy of the law enforcement agency, Rolling Stone said.

Local taxpayers have funded tens of millions of dollars in settlements in claims of recklessness, violence, and harassment, the report found.

Gangs named the Banditos of East Los Angeles station, the Reapers of South Los Angeles station, the Spartans of Century station, and the Executioners of Compton station continue to have a presence within the sheriff's department said the report, which was conducted by the RAND Corporation for the county.

The report discovered that 1 in 6 among 10,000 deputies have been invited to join a gang, with 25% of those happening during the past five years.

L.A. County has paid nearly $55 million in "subgroup related judgments" since 1990, and $21 million in the past decade. (The report used the terms "subgroup" and "clique" in reference to a gang.)

One such settlement occurred in 2019, when the county paid $7 million to resolve a wrongful death claim filed by the family of a man shot and killed by a deputy with an Executioners tattoo.

The Los Angles Times has reported that Sheriff Alex Villanueva's reforms haven't worked. Villanueva previously said he had cleaned house at the East L.A. station and had successfully "broken up" the Banditos.

Besides the current gangs, eight others no longer active have aging members who remain on LASD payroll, the report said.

"I can't say whether the Regulators or Vikings or Banditos are a criminal street gang, but they’re close to it," said one survey respondent who identified obliquely as a "county stakeholder representative."

"The reason you can't answer that is that it’s never been investigated. The culture is so pervasive within the department. There are many people who are in places of management that may have been part of the same cliques, or precursors of them.”

The report said not all gangs are as dangerous as the Banditos, who took part in "alleged workplace harassment, incivility, intimidation, and retaliation, leading to 'brawls in the parking lot,'" the report said.

The county report cited allegations that Banditos have used violence against inmates in LASD custody as an initiation rite —requiring young deputies to use unnecessary force before receiving the clique’s tattoo of a skeleton in a Sombrero holding a revolver, Rolling Stone said.