LA Sheriff’s Department reportedly has gangs operating within it

Even though the majority of the deputies involved are Latino, it doesn't stop them from racial profiling

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Gangs have existed within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for decades, according to whistleblowers within the department, per Yahoo News.

Fearing retaliation, the deputies who blew the whistle do not want to be identified. These unnamed sources work in the East Los Angeles station and allege that gang infiltration into law enforcement has become a big problem in the area.

The most established gang operating out of the East Los Angeles station is reportedly the Banditos, and they serve predominantly African American and Latino neighborhoods.

Read More: Latin gangs attack Black Chicago protesters in effort to assist police

“They operate as a gang. They commit crimes, they assault people,” one deputy told CBS News’s Maria Elena Salinas. The deputy went on to say that members who have become East Los Angeles Banditos have been promoted and are now “spread all over the county.”

Yahoo News reported that another deputy claimed that these gang members can be identified by a special tattoo that marks them as a member of the Banditos.

The deputies also confided that the initiation phase could involve something as harmful as shooting someone. “If you get in a shooting that’s a definite brownie point,” one of the deputies said.

The deputies alleged that this criminal element of the Sheriff’s Department, has been known to plant weapons on suspects to justify shootings.

“There’s been multiple occasions where … they say, ‘Hey, we got a guy that has a gun and he’s running from us.’ In reality that person never had a gun,” one deputy said. “And they would say, oh, it was a phantom gun. It was something that really wasn’t there.”

Even though the majority of the deputies involved are Latino, it doesn’t stop them from racial profiling, according to another unidentified deputy.

“It’s like Latino gangs. They target other young Latinos,” the deputy said.

Read More: California law enforcement rejected nearly every racial profiling complaint received

A grieving mother, Lisa Vargas, has contended that her 21-year-old son Anthony Vargas was targeted when he was shot 13 times by sheriff’s deputies while on his way home. Vargas claimed her son’s death was part of the gang’s “initiations,” and she has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the deputies who shot her son.

George Gascón, the newly-elected Los Angeles County District Attorney, said his department takes the allegations “seriously,” and that he is committed to upholding the law.

“If in fact we believe that there is criminal activity within the sheriff’s department then we will deal with it accordingly,” he said.

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