Deputies Accused of Being in Secret Societies Cost L.A. County Taxpayers $55 Million

The Los Angeles Time Show obtained records showing that Los Angeles County has paid out about $55 million in settlements indicating sheriff’s deputies belong to secret societies.

What We Know:

  • The records show deputies were associated with tattooed groups accused of glorifying an aggressive style of policing. Almost 60 cases were involved in the payouts in the dozens of lawsuits involving the deputies, some of which still aren’t solved. The document also states that the police have paid out $21 million in the last ten years in these cases.
  • The deputies have operated out of several Sheriff’s Department stations and jails. The groups involved include Vikings, Regulators, 3000 Boys, and Banditos. These groups are known as violent, intimidating, and have tactics similar in ways to criminal street gangs. Any attorney who represented families killed by these deputies says, “For some reason, they pride themselves, the Sheriff’s Department, on having these violent cliques I guess to show the public who’s the boss. But, you know, what it does is just fosters a horrible relationship between the community that these sheriffs serve.”
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, members of the Banditos were accused of assaulting other deputies at a party in 2018, leaving one deputy unconscious. Alex Villanueva, L.A. County Sheriff, said he put measures into effect in February that prohibited officers from participating in groups. He stated that him having to put these measures into effect illustrates the failures of past sheriffs.
  • The deputy’s largest payout went to Francisco Carrillo Jr., who was convicted of murder and spent 20 years in prison before it was overturned in 2011. He was 16 and involved in a drive-by shooting but kept his innocence through two trials. He sued the deputies claiming they persuaded the witnesses to pick him from a photo lineup because these deputies were involved with groups such as the Lynwood Vikings.
  • Deputies shot and killed a bicyclist in South L.A., which resulted in another lawsuit settling for $1.5 million in 2018. A deputy was accused of perjury for denying that he was a member of the Regulators. There were a total of 20 deputies, 20 or more of them being prospects or associates involved in these cases and gangs.

As of Tuesday, the Compton Mayor Aja Brown is investigating whether Compton deputies were also engaged in misconduct or discriminatory policing since they have a $22 million contract with the Sheriff’s Department.