Los Angeles County’s top watchdog said Monday substantial evidence exists that a secretive group of tattooed deputies at the East L.A. sheriff’s station, are “gang-like and their influence has resulted in favoritism, sexism, racism and violence.”
In a 32-page report probing activities of the Banditos clique, Inspector General Max Huntsman alleged that Sheriff Alex Villanueva “continues to promote a code of silence regarding these sub-groups” which have plagued the agency for decades.
The inspector general’s report was largely centered around the Sheriff’s Department’s criminal investigation of a fight in 2018 at an off-duty party at Kennedy Hall, an event space near the station, where several deputies said they were attacked by members of the clique. The Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau interviewed dozens of deputies, but according to the report “almost completely ignored” evidence of the Banditos’ role in the events.
“Minimal questions were asked about the Banditos and in the interviews during which the witnesses brought up the Banditos by name, very few follow-up questions were asked,” the report said, adding that 23 witnesses declined to give interviews. The report also criticized the failure of prosecutors to scrutinize the Banditos in their review of the case.
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