U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is being praised by critics of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva after asking federal authorities on Wednesday to investigate claims that a “rogue, violent gang” of deputies is operating within the Sheriff’s Department’s Compton station.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, Waters requested the U.S. Department of Justice probe the alleged existence of a group called the “Executioners” and “launch a pattern or practice investigation into the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for potential civil rights and constitutional violations.”
The move comes as Sheriff Villanueva, a Democrat, has been feuding with several progressive California elected officials and a coalition of anti-police activist groups.
Rep. Waters reportedly said she would make the request seven months ago, but held off until Garland and Clarke were confirmed, according to Spectrum News 1 reporter Kate Cagle.
Waters cited testimony from Deputy Art Gonzalez, who filed a whistleblower complaint last year. He claimed more than a dozen deputies at the Compton station have matching tattoos symbolizing their involvement with the Executioners, which he described as a “gang.”
“Deputies at the LASD Compton station reportedly ‘chase ink,’ a slang term for a deputy who attempts to win favor with the Executioners by committing violent acts in hopes of receiving the group tattoo denoting gang membership,” Waters wrote. “The gang allegedly sets illegal arrest quotas, threatens and harasses fellow deputies, and holds parties after shootings, called ‘998 parties,’ which are in part a celebration that a new deputy will be inked by the gang. The tattoos worn by the police gang reportedly feature Nazi imagery.”
“998” reportedly references the code for a deputy-involved shooting.
Gonzalez claimed that two deputies from the Compton station involved in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Andres Guardado last year were prospective members of the Executioners. Their attorneys have denied those accusations.
Captain John Satterfield, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said Waters’ letter is based on “unproven allegations which she is portraying as facts.”
“The ‘whistle blower’ lawsuit she cites was dismissed with prejudice for lack of evidence,” he continued. “What we do have evidence of is the explosion of homelessness in Maxine Waters’ district and throughout Los Angeles County. The peculiar timing of these allegations appear to be a distraction from the many failures, at all levels of government, to address this homelessness crisis.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Secret groups of deputies with matching tattoos – and names like the Vikings, Regulators, 3000 Boys and the Banditos – have plagued the agency for decades.” They have also been called “deputy cliques.”
Progressive activists have accused Sheriff Villanueva of being a member of the Banditos, a clique based out of the department’s East L.A. station. They have suggested he is hiding tattoos on his body that would show an affiliation with the group.
More details from the Times:
The Sheriff’s Department has been aware of secret groups of inked deputies for decades but has struggled to crack down, despite repeated internal and independent investigations and instances in which members are accused of misconduct.
L.A. County has paid out at least about $55 million in settlements in cases in which sheriff’s deputies accused of wrongdoing have been alleged to belong to a secret society, according to a report prepared by county attorneys that lists nearly 60 cases, some of them still pending, and names eight specific cliques.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva implemented a policy banning deputies from joining illicit groups — the first sheriff to do so — but has been criticized by department watchdogs for a lack of enforcement.
In January, then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the launch of a civil rights probe into LASD. Becerra has since been confirmed as President Joe Biden’s health secretary.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.