For the last 25+ years, I've handled gang-related cases at both the state and federal level. The feds got involved with prosecuting gangs approximately 15 years ago, especially here in Los Angeles, but not just Los Angeles — across the country.
They really have found themselves more suitable to deal with gang-related offenses than the state because a lot of times the gangs are sophisticated, are working with a lot of members.
Some of the the gangs I've seen have over 150+ gang members. So, the prosecutors realize that the state simply is not equipped to deal with such a huge amount of gang members, and therefore, they have to get the feds involved.
Federal Law Enforcement Gang Crime Investigations
The feds come in with multiple agents, so if they're looking at a particular gang, they're going to assign a number of agents — 5 to 10 agents — just to work on that gang prosecution. They're prosecuting members for all sorts of gang crimes. The Federal Bureau on Investigation (FBI) and other agencies assist in investigating gang activity.
One of the big crimes that I see them targeting is gun-related offenses. In other words, assault rifles that are illegal, illegal guns, guns that are being used to commit other more serious and violent felonies, guns that are being sold across state lines — the feds will get involved.
So, guns is a big area for the federal government. I was recently dealing with a case where an Indian tribe was doling out guns to a number of people because they've got that sovereignty being a tribe, but the feds will come in in a circumstance like that.
They're not just going to let guns be distributed out without proper precautions being placed. It's very difficult right now to get a gun in Los Angeles county because of all of the gang violence. I would say almost impossible. So, if someone's just doling out guns for no reason, then obviously the feds will come in and deal with a scenario like that.
Drug and Violent Felony Offenses
So, if you're involved with a federal prosecution related to gun activity you've come to the right place because I've dealt with thousands of cases like this over the years.
Another huge area for the feds is drug use and drugs tied in with guns. So, they're going to come in and they're going assign a crew of federal agents to deal with those gang members who are not only dealing with guns, but are also moving drugs around.
Gangs can move drugs around pretty effectively and that will cause the federal government to come in and surveil the gangs. They will get wire tap warrants and they will take out those drug-related conspiracies that are going on with gang members.
Another area that the feds get involved with as it relates to gang violence is violent felonies. Gang members tend to commit shootings, robberies, kill witnesses. They do all sorts of things that the normal criminal element is not going to do and they're doing it with a large number of members.
They're conspiring together which obviously makes them much more dangerous, so someone like the federal government has to get involved because the state simply can't handle it. They don't have the manpower.
They don't have the resources, the money, the funding, to be able to stay on some of these gang members who are committing violent felonies, intimidating witnesses and doing all sorts of different things.
Federal RICO Charges
So, if you're involved with a federal gang prosecution — sometimes they'll come in and arrest the entire gang — 10 members, 20 members, 50 members, 100 members — and they will prosecute them all together and they will pick them off one by one, so you have to kind of see where you or your loved one falls.
Are you in the low end where you're a small-time player not making huge money? Or, are you or your family member being looked at as being in the high-end of a gang prosecution, in which case you're looking at spending potentially life in prison.
These RICO charges, which is organized crime racketeering — they're putting those on gangs. We see things on TV where we're thinking about the mob and Italians and the Godfather and all those things you see. 18 U.S. Code 1512 defines tampering with a witness, victim, or informant.
But the reality is, gang members in Los Angeles and across the nation — are being prosecuted by the federal government and they're using this mob statute — this RICO racketeering statute — not only to be able to prosecute them, but also to be able to put them away for long periods of time where they're looking at significant time in prison, 15, 20 years or even life in prison.
So, if you or a loved one has a gang-related federal prosecution and you need some help from someone who has experience — I've been doing this for 26 years. I have a lot of experience. I've handled a lot of these cases. Pick up the phone now and contact our federal criminal defense lawyers at the Hedding Law Firm. Make the call. I stand at the ready to help you.