SAN BERNARDINO – Police have arrested 21 out of 52 San Bernardino’s largest gang on narcotics-trafficking charges that include details on hundreds of transactions over a two-year period. Members of the West Side Verdugo gang were indicted by a federal grand jury alleging numerous transactions involving both heroin and methamphetamine took place during a two-year period. Arrests were expected to continue, according to police, though 22 others were already in custody. Another eight defendants were being sought and a summons was issued for another defendant.
The indictments, which were unsealed on Thursday morning, are widespread with members of the Verdugo gang linking various California prisons and alleged connections to Mexican Mafia convicts that are currently serving time.
Ongoing investigations by the FBI, along with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept., San Bernardino Police, plus the state department of corrections and rehabilitation among others, were part of the joint detail.
The indictments pinpoint how some of the proceeds generated by narcotics sales are funneled to members of the Mexican Mafia prison gangs. All 52 defendants, according to a San Bernardino Police press release, are charged with conspiring to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute. Included in the indictments are details that connect hundreds of “overt acts” that begin in the summer of 2010 and continued through 2012.
Numerous drug deals, smuggling into state prison facilities and seizures of drugs by law enforcement were described in the indictments. Members of West Side Verdugo, according to the indictment, collected “taxes” from various drug dealers who were allowed to operate in gang territory. The 21 defendants taken into custody were arraigned on Thursday afternoon in the United States District Court, located in Riverside.
Also taking part in Thursday’s arrests included the San Bernardino Department of Probation, Los Angeles Police Dept., L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept., California Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The indictment was a 90-page document.