|For Immediate Release
September 24, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
INDICTMENT UNSEALED ON THREE DEFENDANTS CHARGED WITH MURDER AND 43 OTHERS FOR GANG ASSAULTS IN ORANGE COUNTY JAIL AT THE DIRECTION OF HISPANIC CALIFORNIA PRISON GANG
*Part of Operation Smokin’ Aces and the largest Grand Jury indictment in Orange County history
SANTA ANA – Over 800 law enforcement personnel from Orange County, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Marshals Service arrested dozens of dangerous, indicted gang defendants throughout Orange, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties as part of “Operation Smokin’ Aces.” Approximately 70 locations were included during this morning’s operations. A total of 129 individuals are being indicted either federally or at the state level at the request of the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA), at the conclusion of a two and a half year investigation. Charges include: Federal racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, narcotic trafficking, and gun trafficking.
The Orange County Superior Court has unsealed an indictment on 43 defendants for their participation in assaults and an attempted murder on 12 inmates in the Orange County jail at the direction of a Hispanic California prison gang (Prison Gang). The OCDA presented a case to the Grand Jury for seven days involving 38 witnesses. The case against the 43 defendants is the largest state Grand Jury case in Orange County history. Three additional defendants have been charged in a separate but related case for murder.
Operation Smokin’ Aces Investigation
The Santa Ana Gang Task Force (SAGTF) comprised of members from the FBI, Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, initiated an investigation in May 2010. The focus was a neighborhood in the southeast portion of Santa Ana that was being plagued with gang crime that included gang related shootings and narcotic sales. The scope of the investigation widened after the local gangs were tied to associates of the Prison Gang and their narcotic suppliers.
The SAGTF conducted over 140 undercover operations and seized 67 firearms, 22 pounds of methamphetamine, one and a half pounds of heroin, and three pounds of cocaine during the course of the investigation. Five of the firearms seized were linked to drive-by/walk-up shootings in the southeast portion of Santa Ana.
The United States Attorney for the Central District of California will prosecute the federal cases, and the OCDA will prosecute the state cases. The Orange County defendants were indicted Aug. 16, 2013.