Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Thursday held a press conference on August 13 to address allegations of “internal gangs” being formed in the department. Villanueva shared that disciplinary action is being taken against over two dozen deputies accused of being part of secret cliques that engaged in violent or criminal behavior.
In his morning news conference, Villanueva disclosed 26 notices of disciplinary action were given out, including terminations, to deputies believed to be involved in these so-called gangs. Sheriff Villanueva provided no details of how many were terminated.
Compton officials held a press conference on August 4 to demand an investigation into a deputies claims of “internal gangs” working inside the Compton Sheriff’s Station and Mayor Aja Brown’s assertions that deputies violated her rights.
“My family was pulled over by Compton deputies for proceeding forward and not stopping at the limit line,” Brown said. “My rights were violated and I was disrespected by deputies with no knowledge or respect for Compton residents.”
Sheriff Villanueva previously shared with 2UrbanGirls that the investigations began shortly after the department was made aware of allegations that a group called “The Executioners” had formed inside the Compton station.
“When we had the first claim that had an issue to do with a sub-group we conducted an investigation and the district attorney declined to prosecute,” Villanueva said. “And we immediately went to the FBI and asked them to participate in our investigation.”
Today’s press conference centered around allegations at the departments East L.A. station.
The disciplinary letters stemmed from an internal investigation into an East L.A. Sheriff’s Station clique called “The Banditos,” accused of operating like a gang. The Banditos reportedly brand themselves with matching tattoos of a skeleton outfitted in a sombrero, bandolier and pistol.
In July of 2019, it was reported the FBI was investigating LASD over its internal gangs. However, in an interview with a local news agency, Villanueva denied the report.
In September of 2019, eight deputies filed a lawsuit against L.A. County, claiming they were beaten, harassed and forced to pay off members of the Banditos. Those who didn’t were denied backup on dangerous calls.
Villanueva stressed he has adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy when it comes to addressing the formation of groups inside the department.
“If you form a group, you mistreat people, yes, we will seek to make sure you are no longer a member of the department,” said Villanueva.
Deputy gangs have plagued the Sheriff’s department for decades and Villanueva continues to work towards restoring the public’s confidence in the department by being transparent with the outcomes of these investigations.