By Sue Favor
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department capped a nearly three-year investigation last week with the arrests of several Hoover Gang members on a variety of narcotics charges.
Authorities took 14 defendants into custody on federal charges, alleging that they sold methamphetamine, crack cocaine, cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP) — some out of two South L.A. storefronts.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Hoover Dam, yielded three indictments by a federal grand jury. One indictment also alleges weapons violations, which includes carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
The first indictment charges 10 defendants, including two senior gang members who operated stores where narcotics were allegedly sold. Bobby Lorenzo Reed, aka “Zo,” 56, the owner of the H&E Smoke and Snack Shop, and Andrew Tate, aka “Batman,” 52, the owner of the TNN Market, each sold methamphetamine, crack cocaine and powder cocaine from their respective South Los Angeles stores, referred customers to one another, supplied one another, and directed their employees to engage in drug sales and referrals, according to the indictment, which details dozens of narcotics transactions in 2017 and 2018.
The 32-count indictment also charges Tate and Lashina Lacy, 33, of Fresno, with conspiring to distribute heroin inside Solano State Prison in Vacaville. Lacy allegedly attempted to smuggle the drug into the prison for an incarcerated gang member, who planned to sell it to other inmates.
With the assistance of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, however, the contraband was intercepted before reaching the inmate.
The second indictment in the case charges three defendants in a series of narcotics transactions in 2018, which allegedly involved methamphetamine and crack cocaine. The third indictment charges two people with distribution of PCP and crack cocaine on the streets.
The three indictments charge 15 defendants, one of which is still at large: Ricky Blue, 51. Defendants were taken into custody in South LA, South Gate and Fresno. Defendants were arraigned in court shortly after their arrests.
If convicted of the charges, most defendants would face mandatory minimum sentences of 5-10 years in federal prison.
Authorities regularly file cases that charge significant numbers of gang members and their associates, according to Thom Mrozek, director of media relations for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Last year alone, the FBI and LAPD worked together to arrest 93 defendants from five gangs in five different operations that spanned from February to October. Involved gangs included the Florencia-13’s, the Vineland Boys, the Rancho San Pedro street gang, the MS-13’s and the Rollin’ 30’s Crips. Charges included drug trafficking, murder, extortion and firearms distribution.
Though the pandemic has slowed the pace of such investigations, Mrozek said law enforcement is committed to protecting the community.
“Gangs and the widespread criminal activity typically seen in gang-controlled neighborhoods is one of the most pressing public safety issues in Southern California,” he said. “Federal authorities have a long history working with our local law enforcement counterparts to address the most dangerous gangs, typically with an eye toward dismantling gang leadership.”
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.