THE YEAR OF THE RICO.
This year has to be some kind of record for Federal gang prosecutions. Following on the heels of the F13 and 18th Street indictments we now have a major MS-13 case dropping. The entity behind the MS-13 case is the Metropolitan Task on Violent Crime, a group we haven't seen officially credited with an investigation in a very long time. This was the same group, but clearly different people, that put together the three big Eme RICO cases in the mid and late 1990s. The guy behind all these indictments is US Attorney Tom O'Brien who without question qualifies for a cape and utility belt. For the completists, O'Brien was briefly in charge of prosecuting the four Avenues shooters who killed Chris Bowser, Tony Prudhomme and Kenny Wilson in Highland Park. He promoted up and the court phase of the case went to Alex Bustamante and Barbara Bernstein.
Putting together these Federal/local PD task forces is remarkably cheap in the overall picture of law enforcement spending. The way these things work is that local cops assigned to the task forces are paid their usual salary by their departments and the Federal authorities pay for overtime, cars, equipment etc. This task force also had the cooperation of Salvadoran cops working right here in LA. Accordng to Chief Bratton, the MS-13 task force worked flawlessly. In the US Attorney's press release, Bratton once again stated that gangs are the "number one problem facing our city."
Ironically, the cost of paying public defenders will probably dwarf the cost of the investigation and prosecution. In the F13 case alone, each of the 102 named defendants will no doubt have his own lawyer. String that out over the two years or so the case will last and you can see how the public cash register will start smoking.
After 9/11, there was apprenhension among local cops and pols that the Federales would divert all their resources to fighting the terrorists among us, especially here in LA. As these cases have demonstrated, when the political will is in place, the government can walk and chew gum at the same time.