According to a report from the RAND Corporation, the county government has singled out at least 4 gangs with names like “the Banditos” & “the Executioners”.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is a massive law enforcement agency – it’s responsible for policing 153 unincorporated communities and 42 cities across a sizable patch of southern LA County – but it doesn’t get nearly as much attention as its neighboring agency, the LAPD, which patrols the City of Los Angeles. Unfortunately for the criminals who wind up in the agency’s crosshairs, this lower profile has helped a culture of gang-like fraternities to flourish across the organization that officially are referred to as “secret cliques” or “subgroups”, but in reality, they’re just gangs.
You know how some people say the police are just the biggest gang? Well, in this case, that’s not too far from the truth. According to a recently released report from the RAND Corporation, the county government has singled out at least four gangs with names like “the Banditos” and “the Executioners”.
Of the roughly 10,000 sworn personnel in the LASD, roughly one-sixth could be members of these gangs (though the actual figure is probably higher given the source). The “subgroups” have pervasive initiation rituals, tattoos, hand signs. Oftentimes, new members are required to violently assault people in custody. Since 1990, the county has paid out nearly $55MM in “subgroup related judgments” including $21MM in the last decade alone.
Still, it’s important to take the complaints with a grain of salt, as RAND even notes in its report that most of the “sub groups” are merely drinking organizations.
In a comment that appears to come from a fellow deputy, the individual says that if these organizations don’t constitute criminal gangs, then they’re close to it.
“I can’t say whether the Regulators or Vikings or Banditos are a criminal street gang, but they’re close to it,” said one survey respondent who identified obliquely as a “county stakeholder representative.” This person continued: “The reason you can’t answer that is that it’s never been investigated…The culture is so pervasive within the department. There are many people who are in places of management that may have been part of the same cliques, or precursors of them.”
One group in particular has been singled out for its bad behavior.
Some complained that the gangs are a threat to other deputies.
The Banditos are a menace to their non-clique colleagues – the report describes “alleged workplace harassment, incivility, intimidation, and retaliation, leading to ‘brawls in the parking lot.'”
Almost as troubling, the RAND report claims the Banditos have used violence against inmates in LASD custody as an initiation rite, requiring initiate deputies to use “unnecessary force” before they can receive the clique’s tattoo — a skeleton in a Sombrero holding a revolver.
“So you have a kid who wants to be accepted, they would ask are you ready to get your ink? And that meant you had to get into a use-of-force and send an inmate to the hospital, sometimes by breaking the orbital bone.”
Oftentimes, supervisors will cover for the deputies when it comes to documenting the use of force allegations.
Sheriff Villanueva has claimed to have cleaned house, but the RAND report contradicts these claims.
Members of the LA County board of supervisors responded to the report with the usual platitudes, and hollow commitments to end the “stranglehold” of the LASD’s gangs. Who knows? Maybe this time will be different?
Read the full report below: