Thirty-six people believed to be members of the upper echelon of a notoriously violent Stockton, Calif.-based Cambodian street gang were arrested Wednesday during raids conducted by state and local law enforcement agencies.
Officials say the gang, the Loc Town Crips, spread terror across the city and used FedEx and DHL to traffic parcels of money and drugs cross country to fellow gang members in states as far away as North Carolina. The trafficked drugs included marijuana, methamphetamine, and ecstasy.
According to officials, the gang members brazenly promoted themselves on a MySpace Web site, plotted drive-by shootings by cell phone text messages, and engaged in shootouts with rival gangs.
Stockton police Chief Wayne Hose says approximately half of the gang cases local prosecutors handle involve the Loc Town Crips and that Wednesday's raid on the gang will make the city safer for all.
"The tentacles of this gang cancer certainly spread through the city, the state, and across the nation," said Hose, adding that last year, he asked the state's Department of Justice for help combating the gang. "This gang was involved in numerous shootings, homicides, and drive-bys. We think it [the arrest] will have a profound impact on the safety of the community of Stockton."
State Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Department of Justice chief, had some harsh words for the gang during the press conference and characterized the gang members as a very sophisticated vicious group of "domestic terrorists and enemies to the community" who recruit youth and perpetrate violence every day.
The 36 people who were arrested in Stockton were booked on suspicion of various weapons and drug charges. Gang members also are suspected in a wide variety of crimes, including multiple killings. An additional arrest was made in North Carolina.
Capping off a six-month investigation, the raids that began at 7 a.m. Wednesday were headed by agents of the state's Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. More than 300 officers from the Manteca, Tracy, and Lodi police departments and the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office joined Stockton police for the roundup. Law enforcement will continue to investigate the gang.