Nineteen people have been arrested for various firearm and narcotics violations following an investigation at a Venice storefront targeting suspected gang members, authorities said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), working with the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific division, initiated the four-month investigation to crack down on Venice/Culver City-area street gangs suspected of engaging in firearms-related offenses and narcotics trafficking, said Christian Hoffman, ATF spokesman.
As part of the investigation, ATF set up and maintained an undercover storefront in an area of Venice where local law enforcement believe is a base of alleged Venice 13 gang members (also known as ‘Venice Trece’), Hoffman said.
The storefront operated by ATF undercover agents successfully attracted a number of suspected gang members and associates, who over the four-month investigation, allegedly sold illegal narcotics, committed numerous firearms violations, and sold a firearm to an ATF undercover agent, Hoffman said.
“ATF aggressively pursues violent gangs who threaten the safety of our citizens and our communities,” said John A. Torres, special agent in charge of the ATF Los Angeles Field Division. “ATF and the LAPD will continue working together to go after these individuals to take them off our streets. When violent crime is reduced, everyone wins – the city of Los Angeles and its citizens.”
According to the ATF, six defendants were named in federal criminal complaints including:
George R. Lopez, 41, of Lawndale, a felon in possession of a firearm;
Salvador Garcia, 29, of Mid-City Los Angeles, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance;
Cesar Perez Rios, 39, of South Los Angeles, a felon in possession of a firearm;
Mario Vincent Lopez, 43, of Lawndale, a felon in possession of a firearm;
Joey Edward Leyba, 37, of West Los Angeles, distribution of a controlled substance; and
Maribel Gordio, 35, of South Los Angeles, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
The remaining defendants are being charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office on numerous state firearm and narcotic violations, Hoffman said.
Several agencies assisted in the investigation including the Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group 52; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Special Services Unit; Los Angeles County Probation Department; and the Inglewood Police Department.