Law Enforcement Operations

CDCR anti‑gang efforts foil Mexican Mafia’s CSP‑Los Angeles County plans

CDCR officers gather at CSP-Los Angeles County to conduct cell searches.
Staff from multiple CDCR institutions joined a massive effort to root out a Mexican Mafia drug-distribution enterprise at CSP-Los Angeles County. The pre-dawn searches netted narcotics, cell phones and other contraband.

By CSP-Los Angeles County staff

Across the state, CDCR officials work to prevent gang-related criminal activity in the state’s correctional institutions.

One such effort involved California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC). With investigations completed, details are being released regarding the 15-month-long efforts of LAC’s Institutional Gang Investigations unit (IGI), the Investigative Services Unit (ISU) and CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety’s (OCS) Criminal Intelligence Analysis Unit (CIAU).

Beginning in June 2018, the IGI was brought into an investigation initiated by the LAC ISU involving money transfers from multiple Mexican Mafia associates, also known as La Eme, and Sureño gang members housed at LAC to La Eme community facilitators. The transfers amounted to $71,000.

CDCR correctional officer searches a light fixture in a prison cell.
CSP-LAC cells housing suspected Mexican Mafia associates were thoroughly searched in the pre-dawn hours in September 2019.

With help of CIAU special agents, officials were able to identify multiple La Eme associates housed at LAC. In all, it ended up as a conspiracy to introduce controlled substances for distribution with ties to La Eme. As a result, the LAC IGI filed a criminal case with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

As the investigation continued the IGI corroborated intelligence regarding the plan to distribute narcotics into LAC as part of a larger Mexican Mafia scheme.

“This was gathered from multiple cellular telephone data extracts which revealed multiple pay/owe sheets and kites (messages or notes passed between inmates) discovered during this investigation,” according to the IGI report. “Multiple Eme associates were identified on the discovered pay/owe sheets, and kites that further identified their participation in illicit activity, thus evidencing ongoing criminal activity at LAC. Subsequent to filing the case, arrest warrants were executed on the parties involved for the charge of 182.5 PC-conspiracy to introduce narcotics into a correctional institution with a 186.22 PC-gang nexus to the Mexican Mafia (EME) (Case No. MA076495). All inmates involved were re-housed in Administrative Segregation pending adjudication of their Rules Violation Reports (RVR), which were referred to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.”

To gain more intelligence regarding the plans, the IGI team was given the green-light from the LAC warden “to execute a mass search operation targeting specific Eme members and associates housed at LAC. This search operation commenced with the assistance of multiple IGI/ISUs from various institutions including California Institution for Men, California Rehabilitation Center, California Correctional Institution, California City Correctional Facility and southern region K-9 units. This operation was done in concert with the assistance of various OCS units including CIAU, Special Service Unit (SSU) Rancho Cucamonga field office and Gang Intelligence Operation (GIO) Fresno field office.”

In September 2019, LAC IGI/ISU along with the assistance of multiple CDCR investigative units and OCS Special Agents, gathered at the institution to conduct pre-dawn raids targeting Eme associates identified during the course of the investigation.

This search turned up narcotics, weapons, multiple pay/owe sheets, items indicating gang membership, cellular telephones, and financial information. The investigation resulted in the higher level-of-custody placement of five Eme associates and one Eme member.

CDCR staff prepare to search cells at California State Prison, Los Angeles County.
In the pre-dawn hours, CDCR staff from multiple institutions converged on CSP-Los Angeles County to search cells

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