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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Los Angeles Harbor Area Gang Members Targeted in Federal Complaints Alleging Fentanyl and ‘Ghost Gun’ Sales

Law enforcement believes the Wilmas gangs are controlled by separate Mexican Mafia members who are each serving a life sentence in a California state prison after being convicted of murder.

Law enforcement arrested seven members and associates of Los Angeles Harbor area street gangs – including from the two largest gangs, Westside Wilmas and Eastside Wilmas – on federal charges alleging the trafficking of firearms and pound quantities of narcotics such as fentanyl.

Those arrested are among 10 members and associates of street gangs who are named across three criminal complaints filed in federal court. One defendant is in state custody, and law enforcement continues to search for two defendants. Authorities arrested an additional four defendants on state charges.

In relation to the charges unsealed Wednesday, law enforcement seized approximately 23 firearms, 26.2 kilograms of methamphetamine, approximately 23,000 fentanyl pills, 2.4 kilograms of powdered fentanyl, and one kilogram of cocaine.

The arrests are the latest development in a violence reduction initiative started in late 2020 by a joint FBI and Los Angeles Police Department task force that targeted gang activity in the Harbor area. Prior to today’s arrests, 11 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.

The seven federal defendants arrested today are charged in complaints filed May 10 with various federal crimes, including distribution of controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to an affidavit filed with one of the complaints, the task force has investigated influential members and associates of the Eastside Wilmas, Westside Wilmas and other Harbor area gangs who were suspected of being involved in a host of illegal activities. Both Eastside and Westside Wilmas are based in Wilmington, a Los Angeles neighborhood located near the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Harbor area gangs, including the Wilmas, 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. Mexican Mafia leaders and associates direct the activities of the Wilmas gangs from within the California state prison system. Leaders have access to illicit cellular telephones and other digital devices that they use to communicate with gang members in the community.

Law enforcement believes the Wilmas gangs are controlled by separate Mexican Mafia members who are each serving a life sentence in a California state prison after being convicted of murder. One Mexican Mafia associate directs firearm and drug sales from prison despite being sentenced to death for murder.

The complaint affidavit alleges from October 2022 to February 2023, reputed Wilmas 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.

In one deal on November 2, 2022, Limon allegedly supplied 5,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills to a buyer for $5,300. Fifteen days later, Limon allegedly supplied 1.71 kilograms (3.8 pounds) of methamphetamine and 2,000 fentanyl pills to a buyer for $5,000. The affidavit further alleges Limon engaged in other illicit sales of fentanyl and firearms.

The affidavit further alleges that Jesus Chuy Delgado, 46, of San Pedro, who reputedly is a high-ranking Westside Wilmas member, engaged in a series of methamphetamine and firearms sales, including several in January and February 2023 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 883.9 grams (1.95 pounds) of methamphetamine while on parole.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If convicted, Limon and Delgado – who are charged with distribution of controlled substances – would face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

The FBI and the LAPD are investigating this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin B. Reidy of Major Frauds Section and Suria M. Bahadue of the Criminal Appeals Section are prosecuting this case.

Read more at the Justice Department

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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