Some details have now been released about last week’s drug trafficking sweep in which hundreds of heavily armored FBI and LAPD officers descended on the small Baldwin Village neighborhood in South L.A. On May 19, at least 45 people were arrested on the suspicion that they were members of the Black P Stones gang. Although last week’s news coverage mentioned federal indictments, very few specific details were revealed.

On Friday it was revealed that 17 of the suspects were arrested for federal offenses and 28 others are facing local or state drug charges. Some also face weapons charges. Four federal suspects remain at large.

The drug trafficking sweep was apparently part of “Operation Red Dawn,” a multi-year investigation that has resulted in the arrests of at least 75 people.

Cell phone store allegedly involved in selling crack cocaine and marijuana

According to officials, the combined FBI/LAPD task force believes that a cell phone store on West Washington Boulevard was selling marijuana and crack cocaine along with its assortment of phones and PDAs.

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has already contacted the property’s owners in what is called an “abatement action,” ordering them to remove any tenants involved in gang or drug activity. The City Attorney has initiated abatement actions against two apartment buildings, as well.

“If the property owners don’t come around, we have been known to come out with bulldozers,” the City Attorney told reporters on Friday.

An assistant U.S. Attorney estimated that anyone convicted on drug charges stemming from the operation will face at least five years in prison with no opportunity for parole. He also said that federal prosecutors plan to incarcerate any of those convicted in far-flung federal prisons so they can be separated from other suspected gang members and erode the cohesion of the gang.

A reporter apparently pointed out that another task force made up of FBI agents and LAPD officers hauled away 29 supposed leaders of the Black P Stones gang from the same small neighborhood five years ago — which apparently did not result in the destruction of the gang.

“The fact we are back is indicative of good intelligence,” responded an FBI assistant director who was speaking for the agency.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Gang sweep uncovers South L.A. cellphone store selling crack cocaine,” Richard Winton, May 20, 2011