The Los Angeles County Office of Inspector General announced on Tuesday, May 16, it sent letters to multiple sheriff’s deputies ordering them to submit to questioning about their knowledge of deputy gangs within the department.
The letters, dated Friday, warn that failure to cooperate with the OIG’s investigation into deputy gangs “is grounds for decertification of a peace officer.”
“Your cooperation is being sought because we believe you may have information regarding one of two groups that may be law enforcement gangs, commonly referred to as the Banditos and the Executioners,” the letters state. “The sheriff’s department is in possession of evidence that the Banditos and Executioners are exclusive, secretive and may qualify as law enforcement gangs pursuant to Penal Code section 13670(b), including by discriminating in membership based upon race and gender in a manner prohibited by this section.”
The letter warns that “absent an assertion by you of your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, failure to answer may adversely affect your employment with Los Angeles County or your status as a certified peace officer.”
It also instructs deputies to bring a photograph of any tattoos they may have on their legs, or any that resemble those that have been associated with the Banditos and Executioners.
The letter includes a list of questions likely to be asked, including a description of any tattoos they may have, and the names of other deputies they believe to be associated with internal gangs.
According to Spectrum News, which first reported on the letters, the missives were sent to 35 deputies. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, which is the union representing deputies, sent text messages to its members Monday instructing them to contact the union before responding, Spectrum News reported, adding that the union told members it was negotiating with the OIG on the issue.
The issue of alleged deputy gangs has long plagued the sheriff’s department. Previous Sheriff Alex Villanueva insisted during his time in office that he immediately cracked down on such groups, and he denied they were actively operating within the agency.
New Sheriff Robert Luna, however, ran on a platform of transparency and vowed to fully cooperate in investigations into the alleged gangs.
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