LOS ANGELES – Federal and local authorities arrested 10 members and associates of the 18th Street gang earlier this week - primarily on federal narcotics charges.
In a sweep that began Tuesday evening and continued into Wednesday, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), as well as deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and officers with the Los Angeles Police Department, took the eight defendants into custody. One defendant was arrested in Honolulu, and another in Indianapolis.
Three other people who face federal charges were already in local custody, while law enforcement continues to search for five more defendants.
The arrests are the culmination of an HSI-led probe that began in December 2014, focusing on the distribution and sale of methamphetamine and unlicensed sales of firearms. Over the course of the investigation, authorities seized approximately four kilograms of methamphetamine and 14 firearms, including five assault rifles. The investigation resulted in six indictments that charge a total of 18 defendants.
Among those arrested Wednesday are Giovanny Ochoa, also known as “Sporty” and “Speedy,” 26, of Hawthorne, and Aveline Villalba, also known as “Gordo” and “Fatboy,” 36, of South Los Angeles, who are charged with selling approximately one-quarter pound of methamphetamine in the fall of 2016 to an undercover agent. Ochoa is also charged in relation to another quarter-pound sale, as well as transactions involving one-ounce quantities of meth.
If they are convicted of conspiracy and narcotics-distribution charges, Ochoa and Villalba each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, but could be sentenced to as much as life.
Ochoa, Villalba, and the other six defendants arrested in the Los Angeles area were arraigned in U.S. District Court. All eight pleaded not guilty and were ordered held without bond pending trial.
The two defendants arrested in other districts have also been ordered held without bond and are expected to be transported to Los Angeles in the coming weeks.
The six cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Mausner, Jennifer Weinhold and Damaris M. Diaz, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Fernandez, all of the General Crimes Section.