FBI and LAPD arrest 14 in alleged storefront drug ring run by South L.A. gang

FBI agents and Los Angeles police arrested 14 suspects with alleged ties to the Hoover Criminals gang in South Los Angeles on federal drug charges Tuesday night and Wednesday.

A three-year investigation, dubbed Operation Hoover Dam, culminated in three indictments detailing narcotics sales from a South L.A. market and smoke shop and inside a state prison. The indictments charge a total of 15 defendants. One of them, Ricky Blue, 51, remained at large as of Wednesday afternoon.

The indictments allege that the defendants — all members or associates of the street gang, or alleged drug dealers who operated in gang territory — sold methamphetamine, crack cocaine, cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP). One indictment also alleges weapons violations, including carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

At the center of the operations were the TNN Market operated by Andrew Tate, 52, known as “Batman,” and H&E Smoke Shop run by Bobby Lorenzo Reed, 56, also known as “Zo,” who are both charged in the conspiracy with distributing an array of narcotics, according to the main indictment unsealed Wednesday.

The main indictment charges 10 defendants, including Reed and Tate, described as senior members of the gang who directed the sale of methamphetamine, crack cocaine and powder cocaine from their South Los Angeles storefronts. According to the indictment, they referred customers to one another, supplied one another and directed their employees to engage in drug sales during dozens of transactions in 2017 and 2018.

The 32-count indictment also alleges Tate and a second suspect conspired to distribute heroin inside California State Prison Solano in Vacaville. Tate, according to the indictment, supplied heroin to Lashina Lacy, 33, of Fresno, who is accused of attempting to smuggle the contraband into the prison for an incarcerated gang member, who, in turn, intended to sell the heroin to other inmates.

Investigators with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation intercepted the heroin before it entered the prison, according to the indictment. FBI agents used informants to repeatedly buy narcotics from the suspects and also recorded the suspects’ telephone calls, in which they used coded language to disguise discussion about crack cocaine and meth.

The second indictment charges three defendants with participating in a series of narcotics transactions in 2018 involving methamphetamine and crack cocaine. The third indictment charges two people with distributing street-level quantities of PCP and crack cocaine.

*story by Los Angeles Times