For decades, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been under pressure to break up tattooed gangs of deputies accused of misconduct.
But senior department officials, county leaders and prosecutors have failed to root out a subculture of inked clubs that pervades the nation’s largest sheriff’s agency.
Now, the FBI has opened an investigation of these secret societies that seeks to accomplish what high-powered sheriffs, blue-ribbon commissions and millions of dollars in lawsuits over the last 50 years have not: identify deputies who brand themselves with the matching tattoos and determine whether the groups they belong to encourage or commit criminal behavior.
The FBI probe into deputy gangs spotlights the shortcomings of local efforts, which have mostly been piecemeal, often resulting in investigations that focus on isolated acts of wrongdoing.
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