Federal and State Grand Juries Indict 129 Defendants who Allegedly Assisted the Prison Gang or Were Involved in the Business of Numerous O.C. Street Gangs
SANTA ANA, CA—Hundreds of law enforcement officials this morning fanned out across Southern California to conclude Operation Smokin’ Aces, an investigation conducted by the Santa Ana Gang Task Force that targeted the Orange County wing of the Mexican Mafia, which allegedly exercises control over Latino street gangs and is a powerful force in the local jail system.
A total of 129 defendants have been named in indictments issued by county and federal grand juries. Each of the defendants is linked to an Orange County street gang that claims allegiance to the Mexican Mafia, which is also called the Eme. Some of the federal defendants also are associates of the prison gang who allegedly worked directly with one of the two Mexican Mafia members who oversee the Orange County wing of the criminal enterprise.
During the course of the investigation, task force members made undercover purchases of 67 weapons (38 handguns and 29 rifles). They also seized 22 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.5 pounds of heroin, and three pounds of cocaine.
Over the past three months, a federal grand jury in Orange County has returned 26 indictments that charge a total of 86 defendants. The indictments allege a wide range of criminal conduct, including murder and assault, extortion and “tax” collection, and the street-level distribution of narcotics.