Wednesday, July 13, 2011


According to preliminary reports from the Orange County Register, HERE, the Costa Mesa Police
Department, in conjunction with Santa Ana PD, FBI, ATF, OC Sheriff's Department and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation completed a 32-month-long operation that snagged nearly 100 members of the Mexican Mafia and affiliates.

More information is pending and will be reported here when available.

Shortly after 1 p.m. I received more information from Costa Mesa Police Department

On July 13, 2011, members of the CMPD Gang Enforcement Unit and Special Operations Group, in conjunction with the FBI, ATF, and a number of other state and local agencies, served arrest warrants at four separate Costa Mesa residences as part of a joint-agency investigation. “Operation Black Flag” was a 2 ½ year countywide, federal investigation that originated with the Costa Mesa criminal street gang, “Forming Kaos”. This investigation uncovered direct ties to the Mexican Mafia prison gang throughout Orange County and involved sales of large quantities of firearms and narcotics, as well as conspiracies to commit violent acts by local gang members.

Since 2008, the Costa Mesa Police Gang Enforcement Unit spent countless hours directly assisting federal authorities throughout this highly complex and clandestine investigation. In the end, more than 99 federal and state criminal indictments, which include federal RICO violations, were obtained that resulted in the service of arrest warrants throughout Orange County and parts of LA County. Three main players from Costa Mesa were arrested, with an additional being charged who is currently in custody on a separate case.

Attached is the FBI’s Joint Press Release for “Operation Black Flag”. CMPDs collaborative efforts and reputation received rave reviews from all of the allied agencies involved in this long-term investigation.

I tried to provide a link to the long, long press release, but the system failed. So, you're just going to have to wade through the text below:


Federal indictments allege racketeering by criminal enterprises operating in Orange County, CA, Linked gang-related felonies charged at federal and state levels.

Over five hundred law enforcement officers and agents executed arrest and search warrants this morning marking the culmination of a multi-year investigation by the Santa Ana Gang Task Force that resulted in five federal indictments and various state felony charges for gang-related crime. Members and associates of violent Mexican Mafia controlled gangs who claim the streets of Orange County as their territory were taken into custody for their roles in crimes and criminal enterprises alleged to be responsible for carrying out offenses including racketeering, extortion, narcotics and firearms violations, assault and murder.

The results of today’s operation were announced today by representatives of the Santa Ana Gang Task Force member agencies, including: the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, André Birotte Jr.; FBI Assistant Director in Charge, Steven Martinez; Santa Ana Police Chief, Paul Walters; Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas; ATF Special Agent in Charge, John Torres; Senior Special Agent Daniel Evanilla with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Captain Les Gogerty with the Costa Mesa Police Department; and Orange County Sheriff, Sandra Hutchens.

26 of the 57 federal defendants were arrested during today’s early morning operation; while 25 were already incarcerated on unrelated charges. Six are considered fugitives and are being sought be members of the task force. In addition, eight of the state defendants were arrested today and three are considered fugitives. The remainder were already in custody.

Separate lists of the federal and state defendants are being made available on separate documents.

A federal grand jury in the Central District of California returned five federal indictments, the last of which was returned on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011. The federal indictments collectively charge 57 members or associates of the Mexican Mafia and the Forming Kaos street gang that claims its territory in the city of Costa Mesa. The five indictments allege a pattern of serious criminal activity ranging from drug trafficking to conspiracy to murder. Two of the five federal indictments charge violations of the federal racketeering statute, commonly known as RICO.

One RICO indictment charges a total of 28 defendants associated with an Orange County branch of the Mexican Mafia, an organization led by Mexican Mafia member, Peter Ojeda. Ojeda was previously indicted in 2005 in the Central District of California and is currently incarcerated in federal prison serving time for his conviction in that case. The second Indictment charges an additional 17 defendants (11 with RICO) associated with the Forming Kaos street gang in Costa Mesa, CA, and details the gang’s extensive ties to the Mexican Mafia.

The three remaining federal indictments charge an additional 13 defendants with a variety of narcotics trafficking violations, including the distribution of heroine, methamphetamine and cocaine, as well as a series of firearms offenses.

In addition to the federal indictments, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has filed various charges in connection with the alleged murder and assault conspiracies, to include gang enhancements.

The two federal RICO indictments are further described below.

The Orange County Mexican Mafia (OC Mexican Mafia); Peter Ojeda Criminal Enterprise

The indictment charging members and associates of the Orange County faction of the Mexican Mafia, headed by defendant Peter Ojeda, alleges the defendants engaged in conspiracies to commit murder, extortion, conspiracies to commit extortion, and narcotics trafficking for monetary gain. The defendants, according to the indictment, functioned as a continuing unit for a common purpose of achieving the objectives of the enterprise.

The Mexican Mafia
The Mexican Mafia is a powerful and violent prison gang which controls drug distribution and other illegal activities within the California penal system and on the streets of Southern California by organizing Hispanic street gang members for the purpose of establishing a larger network for the Mexican Mafia’s illegal activities. If a gang does not accede to the Mexican Mafia, the Mexican Mafia will assault or kill the gang’s members who are not in custody, as well as those members who are incarcerated within the California penal system. In addition to intimidation through direct assaults, the Mexican Mafia is also able to assert control and influence over gang members outside the penal system because gangs do not want their members in the penal system to be assaulted or killed, and because the gang members know that, if they are incarcerated, they will need the protection of the Mexican Mafia while they serve their sentences.

As a member of the Mexican Mafia, or “carnal,” defendant Ojeda maintained the primary leadership role among Hispanic street gang members in Orange County and his influence over gangs extended from the streets to the jail system. High ranking and intermediate level members of the F-Troop criminal street gang, as well as high ranking members of other Hispanic criminal street gangs, such as Delhi, Highland Street, Orange Varrio Cypress, East Side Santa Ana, Little Hood Santa Ana, McClay, Townsend, and Forming Kaos, made up the Orange County Mexican Mafia and assisted defendant Ojeda in exerting his influence over Hispanic street gangs and their members in Orange County, according to the indictment.

Ojeda ordered Hispanic criminal street gangs in Orange County to pay money as a “tax” or “tribute” which consisted of a portion of the proceeds the gangs earned from various criminal activities. In return, gang members were permitted to exert influence over their neighborhoods and territories and seek protection or assistance from the OC Mexican Mafia.

The indictment alleges Ojeda disciplined Orange County criminal street gangs and their
members who engaged in unsanctioned violence or did not pay taxes as required. The OC Mexican Mafia also disciplined any gang member who committed some act of disrespect to the organization, its members, or those protected by it. The discipline included “green lights” placed on the offender, meaning the gang or gang member would be physically disciplined or required to pay a “penalty”. The OC Mexican Mafia also disciplined members and associates of its enterprise and other gang members by putting them on a “Hard Candy” list, meaning the individual would be targeted for death by any member or associate of the OC Mexican Mafia.

Ojeda, who served as the unchallenged leader of the OC Mexican Mafia for decades, was transferred out of Orange County in 2007 to serve the federal sentence imposed as a result of his 2006 conviction in the federal Bureau of Prisons. At this time, another member of the Mexican Mafia, defendant Armando Moreno, attempted to take over defendant Ojeda’s leadership position in the OC Mexican Mafia and ordered Ojeda’s supporters to be placed on the “Hard Candy” list. Despite being incarcerated outside of California, defendant Ojeda maintained his leadership position in the organization and ordered those members and associates loyal to defendant Moreno to be placed on the “Hard Candy” list.

The girlfriends and wives of incarcerated members and associates are alleged to have been directly involved in the affairs of the OC Mexican Mafia and knowingly passed messages between members and associates of the OC Mexican Mafia. The indictment alleges these messages included “green light” and “Hard Candy” lists which resulted in individuals being targeted for assaults and murder.

The Forming Kaos (FC) Criminal Enterprise
The second RICO indictment charges members and associates of a criminal organization engaged in conspiracies to commit murder, assaults with dangerous and deadly weapons, extortion, conspiracies to commit extortion, and narcotics and firearms trafficking for monetary gain. This organization operated in Orange County and is known as the “Forming Kaos” criminal enterprise. The gang constituted an ongoing organization whose members functioned as a continuing unit for a common purpose of achieving the objectives of the enterprise.

FK members operated and claimed territory in Costa Mesa, California, primarily on the westside of the city and guard their territory against any encroachment from members or associates of any other criminal street gang. The indictment alleges FK members have and are willing to engage in acts of violence, including murders and assaults, to defend their territory, which they mark or “plaque” or “tag” with graffiti. FK members are expected to retaliate through the use of violence, including murders and assaults, against anyone who assaults or kills another FK member, or disrespects FK or its members. Those invited to join FK are typically “jumped in,” whereby they are assaulted by two or more gang members for a limited period of time by other FK members in order to prove their toughness and worthiness to join the enterprise. Some members can be “walked in,” whereby they can bypass being jumped in if they grew up in FK territory or have family members who already belong to FK, or they can be “crimed in,” whereby they commit a certain amount of criminal acts on behalf of the gang to show their loyalty to the gang.

In an effort to protect FK territory from rival gang members and to carry out retaliation against anyone who assaults or kills or otherwise disrespects its members, FK members share firearms and sell firearms to fellow members. They also engage in the sale of firearms for monetary gain to maintain FK’s status.

FK exercises control over narcotics dealers within FK territory by requiring dealers to pay a
“tax” to the enterprise on a regular basis. In return for paying the tax, the narcotics dealers are allowed to distribute narcotics in FK territory without interference from FK members, and they receive protection from rival gang members seeking to assault them. FK members themselves also engage in narcotics trafficking and rely on narcotics suppliers in order to make money for use by the enterprise. Additionally, FK aligns itself with the Mexican Mafia and collects taxes from individuals seeking protection. Many FK members have tattoos depicting their allegiance to the Mexican Mafia, such as the number “13” and/or two bars and three dots, which represent the Mayan symbol for the number 13.

According to United States Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr.: "Today's charges demonstrate that the Department of Justice is committed to dismantling the Mexican Mafia and the street gangs associated with the Mexican Mafia. No member of the Mexican Mafia, and no gang member affiliated with the Mexican Mafia, is beyond the reach of the law. Working with our partners at the state and local level, we will bring gangsters to justice, whether they commit their crimes on our streets or in our prisons."

FBI Assistant Director in Charge, Steven Martinez, said, “The Santa Ana Gang Task Force put years of effort into this complex investigation to find those responsible for the gang violence plaguing Orange County communities, including two major criminal enterprises calling shots on the streets and from inside prison walls. The serious charges the defendants now face, including RICO, are a positive step in ensuring the defendants face the consequences for the abundance of crimes alleged.”

A dangerous criminal street gang has suffered a critical blow to its organization and to its ability to intimidate and extort residents in the Orange County area. The criminals targeted by this operation aligned themselves with the Mexican Mafia in order to ensure their stronghold on their territory,” said John Torres, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Los Angeles Field Division. “Today’s operation has removed and insidious threat to the stability of our communities, and has sent a clear message to those individuals involved in gang activity that they will be pursued, prosecuted and removed from the very streets they seek to terrorize.

Senior Special Agent Daniel Evanilla with the CDCR said, “The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-Special Service Unit is happy to have partnered with all of these agencies to again disrupt the criminal activities of the Mexican Mafia (EME) prison gang.”

Chief of Police Paul Walters stated, “This operation is a prime example of what multi-agency task forces can accomplish to keep our communities safe. The collaboration in this case included local, state and federal resources and will bring some dangerous individuals who were operating at a sophisticated level to justice.”

“Defendants who commit crimes to glorify their gangs and continue to commit serious crimes behind bars are some of the most dangerous individuals in our society. The only place they belong is in prison and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is committed to keeping them there for the rest of their lives,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

Lieutenant Mark Manley with the Costa Mesa Police Department said, “We’re extremely proud of our participation and the fact that this large-scale investigation will undoubtedly result in a blow to one of our more historically active local gangs, as well as the larger criminal enterprise throughout Orange County.”

Many of the federal defendants face mandatory-minimum prison terms ranging from 5 to 10 years, depending on the quantities of narcotics alleged and individual criminal histories, and maximum penalties of 20 years to life imprisonment. Federal defendants arrested today will make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana this afternoon.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Santa Ana Police Department; the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Special Service Unit; the Costa Mesa Police Department – Gang Enforcement Unit; and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Multiple agencies assisted during today’s operation, including Garden Grove Police Department; Tustin Police Department, Los Alamitos Police Department; Seal Beach Police Department; Irvine Police Department; La Habra Police Department: Orange County Regional Narcotics Supression Program; California Department of Justice – Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement; Newport Beach Police Department and Orange Police Department.

The federal defendants will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney in Orange County will prosecute defendants charged by the state.

The Santa Ana Gang Task Force is one of many FBI Safe Streets Task Forces throughout the United States, funded for the purpose of assisting local police in identifying and addressing violent crime in America.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

Media Contact:
FBI Media Relations: 310 996-3343
Orange County Sheriff’s Department: 714 904-7042
U.S. Attorney’s Office: Bruce Riordan: 213 894-0480
Orange County District Attorney’s Office: 714 347-8405
Santa Ana Police Department: Anthony Bertagna: 714 709-2043
ATF: Special Agent Chris Hoffman: 213 216-3622

As you read, the core of this massive action was based in Costa Mesa, in the gang known as Forming Kaos (FK). I suspect many of you have seen their graffiti around town over the years.

Kudos to the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department who were a key part of this huge sweep. The press release gives you all the information you need to know about this massive undertaking, and the coordination and execution by so many members of law enforcement from so many agencies.


One wonders how much longer our police department will be able to perform at such a high level now that the city council has decided that they are willing to put political expediency ahead of public safety by reducing law enforcement staffing to levels not seen in our city since the mid-1980s. This will be but one of the challenges facing new Police Chief Tom Gazsi as he takes the reins.

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Anonymous Ha! said...

I thought Riggy and Co. messed up even more when I saw your headline!

7/13/2011 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Too bad they failed to apprehend the 4 organized crime members that occupy the council chambers

7/13/2011 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

On the city website tomorrow:

"Gangs completely eliminated in Costa Mesa. Council to announce more police cuts."

Spin, Lobdell, spin!

On Fox tonight:

Jim "El Gordo" Righeimer tells Chris Wallace how he and his sidekick "El Menses" arrested all the criminals in Costa Mesa in one day.

7/13/2011 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

You know what would be cool is if we had less cops and fewer patrols. Maybe take police staffing levels down to 1980's levels. Combine that with more and more prisoners qualifying for early release from state prisons, we can then give the Mexican Mafia a big warm welcome. Plus the city can give them jobs through the Righeimer outsourcing plan too.

One can only hope the gang members that claimed Costa Mesa as their territory (Kaos street gang) will come back again.

Jim Righeimer was right. Cops just aren't needed anymore. Our city is much safer being run by a free market non-government entity not held back by the law just like so many other third world cities and countries.

*end of sarcasm*

Here's another good article about what's going on by the way:

7/13/2011 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

Wah, wah, blame our Council for everything. New Chief, we don't care, still Jim Righeimer's fault. Some good posts by the Pot Stirrer dragged down by the same drivel from the few nameless people who have only the same negative things to say. I'd tell you to move but I doubt you all live here. I love this City and am excited about our new Chief and what's happening. If you guys hate it so much, move on.

7/13/2011 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Wah wah, new chief, but a lot less Indians, thanks to Riggy and his cohorts.

Now go away shill.

7/13/2011 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

I'm truly shocked that the readers of this blog aren't complaining that racists are attacking 99 of our finest illegal alien Mexicans.

Now maybe readers will understand why Martin Millard has been so concerned for so long. Danger like this has been lurking in our midst for a long time. This is what happens when people look the other way in an effort to be politically correct.

By the way, all of this was accomplished with our little 1980s sized police force. It should now be obvious that had too many cops to start with.

Congratulations CMPD!

7/13/2011 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

In case anyone was wondering.........Gericaults" STILL HERE!!!!

7/13/2011 06:10:00 PM  
Anonymous bet ur dope said...

I bet the FK case was started by a couple patrol cops who were able to use some of their community policing skills and focus on gang contacts. Then, based from those few cases, the gang unit was able to prove gang associations, get the bangers on probation and subject to gang terms, and from there with hard work they were able to bring down 99 very bad guys who were selling drugs, selling guns, and committing other crimes in safe ol' Costa Mesa.

Too bad that type of policing is dead in Costa Mesa now- not enough officers to do it.

Too bad the city isn't as safe as the ignorant think.

Too bad, too bad, too bad.

7/13/2011 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Carol, I don't normally point out the stupidity of posters here, but I'm breaking that rule in your case. Notwithstanding you mentioned the racist laureate here, did you notice in the press release that over 500 law enforcement officers were involved in these arrests today? Did you notice that it was an operation that took 32 months - nearly 3 years - to consummate? Did you notice that agencies involved included the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Santa Ana Police Department; Orange County Sheriff's Department; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Costa Mesa Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Also participating were police departments from Garden Grove, Tustin, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Orange and Newport Beach. Others included the Orange County Regional Narcotics Suppression Program and the California Department of Justice - Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

This operation, which apparently began in Costa Mesa, was done so at a time when our police department was at maximum strength - 164 - a fact that should ring loud and clear to those who feel adequate police protection can be achieved with a 20% smaller department.

7/13/2011 07:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Sabre six-seven said...

Carol...way to read. You go girl. If you had actually comprehended the piece, you would see that the operation was over the last 2 1/2 years...a period where CMPD staffing was at it's maximum. Not the "little 1980's sized" police department that you state. The proposed reorganizational cuts have actually yet to be implemented. Additionally, not ALL of the arrests were in Costa Mesa, but a Costa Mesa gang was the impetus for the investigation though. So, don't rush to canonize "St. Millard" with the "he was right all along" tripe.

7/13/2011 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous The Black Hand said...

"Sana" is no joke..

Kudos to CMPD and all the agencies involved..

7/13/2011 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous The Black Hand said...

AND, of course, kudos to "el que agita la olla".. for taking the time to post this at a time when our city council is looking to cut officers..

Working in the Corrections field for the last 18 years, I know first hand that this is no joke..the one word that comes to mind to describe "la EME" and its associates is RUTHLESS.

Stay Safe.

7/13/2011 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

Geoff, put the stupidity remark in your own corner. With the CMPD having all that outside help, why do they need so many local cops?

These arrests prove my point. Costa Mesa will get along just fine with 1980s cops.

Trust me!

7/13/2011 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Carol, you are indeed clueless and hopeless. Please feel free to continue to demonstrate that for all of us here.

7/13/2011 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Garryowen said...

Carol, you are truly amazing. It's funny how your idol Millard and his ilk will profess ideas like Sinn Fein (ourselves alone), and that the local authorities should be more autonimous with no federal influence etc. The whole conservative belief of self reliance and self accountability.

You buy into those ideals, until it doesn't suit your argument, then you abandon them for something more convenient.

Sure we can get by with fewer cops and fewer municipal employees...until we have some major disaster (natural or man made), then we will be beholding to the state, feds or whomever, because we can't take care of ourselves, financially or with manpower.

Grt a cohesive argument then come talk to us.

7/13/2011 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous california love said...

Oh Carol I hope they go sell crack on your corner and then we will see how you feel. BTW, CMPD doesn't have time to respond to your crack complaint now, they are already backed up on calls so they should make it in about 3 hours. And we both know he will be gone by then, so it is like the crime never occurred in the first place. Perfect 1980s service. Enjoy, at least the bangers are policing the streets for other dealers so you will only have one to be concerned about.

7/13/2011 09:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Former Westsider said...

I used to live in Westside in 2008. Unfortunately I witnessed a brutal gang fight break out while at a stop sign with my six year-old son.

I quickly called CMPD, and cautiously followed the truckload of thugs escape-route. Within seconds, Dispatch directed Eagle One & ground units to their location where CMPD arrested the entire group of well-known gang members.

I was amazed by the immediate response-time, as well as the Gang Unit's unique repoire with the jackholes involved.

Unfortunately, my son saw a bunch of bad-guys go ballistic on our way home. But fortunately, he saw the CMPD /aka/ good-guys "putaguey" all the bad guys in jail!

I really fear the new lowered CMPD staff levels will deeply affect emergency response times, as well as the overall effectiveness of HBPD responding to these types of calls. I drove all over the Westside, and I sure hope their pilots know CM nooks & crannies as well as Eagle One did.

7/13/2011 10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous TheCostaMeasan said...

1980's sized PD would be the best fore the city. It didn't take all 164 officers to participate in the investigation. If your are lucky less than 45 officers of CMPD were even involved.We are talking the officers int he early shit to the late shift officers. If the 164 Officers were so needed why didn't they have a clue as to the nature of the size of this Mafia. Back in the early 80's, the PD handled the Asian gang "The Luns" just fine along with their two rival gangs. One incident involving chasing a football player across the field at Estancia with a pointed gun.

So don't give this we need the 164 size PD. If the ACLU would of let Costa Mesa get the Cucarachas out of Costa Mesa when Monsoor tried a few years ago this would of been under control.

7/13/2011 11:44:00 PM  
Anonymous barewire said...

iteresting. even though i have seen the gangs grafitti all over town i thought it was a low level gang. why? because clay epperson told us so. the real gang problem according to epperson was PEN1, a white gang. guess he was wrong.

7/14/2011 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Brumbaugh said...

Stand proud CMPD. Thank you for providing the safety factor that many can't see. I do and always will support the CMPD.

7/14/2011 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Funny that the two people that support the council on this thread - TheCostaMeasan and Carol - are the only ones to bring up race comments, when none was needed or even mentioned in the article.

7/14/2011 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Colin wrote:
"Funny that the two people that support the council on this thread - TheCostaMeasan and Carol - are the only ones to bring up race comments, when none was needed or even mentioned in the article."

Pretty "transparent":

Shills have their talking points and marching orders.
The bad guys don't operate in a vacuum.

Stay tuned.

7/14/2011 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous voxiamot said...

Barewire, how many years ago was it that Epperson spoke on PENI?

7/14/2011 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

for what it's worth... stat's suggest that for every ONE banger, there are 5 others connected to him; jr. members, friends; those sympathetic to the movement.

if this is true, let's try the math:

the article mentioned a majority haled from CM... 60% OK?

58 X 5 = 290 "still at large"?

Now that these are in jail, will others step up to fill the void? Or will FK follow the council's example and eliminate those positions; maybe outsource?

7/14/2011 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...


Geoff posted on Sept 2 2009.

... got to love Google!

7/14/2011 01:58:00 PM  

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