May 23, 2013
By Xavier Higgs
LAWT Contributing Writer
A multi-agency task force arrested 10 gang members last Wednesday as part of a two-year investigation stemming from a series of cold case homicides.
Montebello police and federal agents targeted a Southside Montebello gang in an attempt to resolve dozens of unsolved homicides and gang-related activities.
As a result of “Operation Sudden Impact,” thirty-nine people indicted, thirty-three arrested, six homicides solved, seized 600 grams of methamphetamine, and 20 firearms were apprehended.
Montebello police and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents made these arrests. Furthermore with several dozen federal and state indictments, authorities are confident this will be a factor to resolve several unsolved gang homicides.
Authorities said dozens of killings stemmed from ongoing rivalries over drugs and turf.
Nevertheless, those in custody face an usually long list of federal and state charges, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, witness intimidation, extortion, and assorted weapons and drug charges.
As a part of the investigation, law enforcement officers infiltrated the Southside Montebello gang and obtained evidence of alleged crimes. Their activities included extortion, carjacking, armed robbery, homicides, drive by shootings, as well as firearms and narcotics trafficking.
At a news conference in Montebello, U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. said, “the beauty of this investigation is we’re going to attack this from different angles.”
Among the arrested gang members is Joe John Dorantes, 27. Detectives say Dorantes gunned down Albert Garcia and his 12-year old son, Juan, in June 2008 at a graduation party.
Another of the main suspects is an original member of the "killer squad." Jimmy Valenzuela, 27, who lives in Montebello, is accused of suspicion of committing two gang-related execution style slayings. He was arrested in June 2012.
According to LA County District Atty. Jackie Lacey, charges ranging from narcotics sales to sale of an assault weapon, to being a felon in possession of a gun, will be filed against 14 of those arrested. Also the District Attorney’s office has associated six Montebello gang members with four homicide cases.
District Atty. Lacey also praised the collaboration of federal, state and local police. “This represents a win for the residents of Montebello and surrounding communities,” said District Atty. Lacey.
In a 68-page indictment, Federal prosecutors said nine of the 18 charged in four indictments violated the RICO statue.
U.S. Atty. Birotte also said the Southside Montebello gang is the target in this case.
“We believe there are other gangs that are involved as well,” said U.S. Atty. Birotte.