Eleven people were arrested and eight children were taken into protective custody Thursday as Long Beach police and federal authorities served search warrants at 32 locations in Southern Califoria as part of a years-long multi-agency probe into an identity theft and tax fraud ring.
The Long Beach Police Department and more than 200 detectives from numerous law enforcement agencies arrested members of the Baby Insane Crips criminal street gang, and relatives of the gang members, authorities said.
At a press conference (see pictures) Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and other law enforement leaders announced that the search warrants were served mostly in Long Beach but throughout the L.A. area. There were no details released about the children's ages.
Aside from the arrests, officers seized several thousand dollars in cash, and thousands of dollars of property, including 10 guns -- an assault rifle, a shotgun and eight handguns. Also seized were electronics, such as large screen plasma television sets and stereos, video projection equipment, several high-end vehicles and a $50,000 boat.
The original operation's first stage was announced on June 6 of this year, and revealed the investigation began in 2010. The latest arrests are part of the same case, which stemmed from 13 shootings and a murder investigation, Long Beach police said. (Click here for photos of those suspects). The joint investigation - which involves the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service and employed the services of more than 200 detectives and agents - determined that the gang was heavily involved in identity theft and tax fraud.
Investigators allege that they learned that suspects were stealing personal identifying information used to commit financial crimes, including the filing of fraudulent tax returns. The stolen proceeds were then used to fund the gang's lifestyle, which authorities called extravagant.
It was determined that tens of thousands of dollars had been lost to the federal government, and more than $1 million was lost to other kinds of financial fraud.
"We would like this operation to serve as another strong message to the gangs in the city of Long Beach and throughout the region, that we will not stand for the destruction you bring to our communities, and will do everything within our power to stop the violence and corruption that you inflict upon society," said Long Beach McDonnell, at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
The List of Suspects Arrested
Taken into custody Thursday were:
- Crystal Armijo, 27, Long Beach
- April Clark, 21, Long Beach
- Christina Clark, 23, Long Beach
- John Hermidaveh, 48, Long Beach
- Lakanda Horn, 40, Carson
- Dominique Lewis, 24, Los Angeles
- Ebony Mosely, 30, Harbor City
- Dejuana Oliver, 22, Long Beach
- Lamartin Patterson, 30, Long Beach
- Torrence Stokes, 27, Los Angeles
- Edward Winston, 27, Long Beach
"We will continue to unite with our law enforcement partners at the local, county, state and federal levels, and utilize every tool available to us to target not only you, but those who conspire with you to victimize members of our community for your personal gain," the Chief added.
- City News Service contributed to this report.