The claim, which was filed June 23 and first reported on by the Los Angeles Times on July 30, says that a gang of sheriff’s deputies are involved in a group known as “The Executioners” that reportedly controls the ins and outs of a patrol station in Compton, California.
The allegations were made by Austreberto Gonzalez, a retired US Marine and veteran sheriff’s deputy with the department since 2007, who said he was forced to step down from a field training officer position for anonymously reporting a member of the gang for assaulting a colleague in a parking lot.
Gonzalez has indicated that members of the group retaliated against him for months after he filed his report to internal affairs by refusing to partner with him, among other measures. The first instance of retaliation came in the form of a threat, with a text message that included a photo showing graffiti that read “ART IS RAT.”
In another instance, Gonzalez and two other deputies filed a complaint in 2017 that detailed the trio was being punished with “undesirable assignments” for their failure to meet illegal arrest quotas imposed by the group. The legal claim states that a sergeant responded by informing the complainants that they “should have known that by now.”
“We have a gang here that has grown to the point where it dominates every aspect of life at the Compton station,” Alan Romero, Gonzalez’s attorney, told the Times. “It essentially controls scheduling, the distribution of informant tips, and assignments to deputies in the station with preference shown to members of the gang as well as prospects.”
Gonzalez noted in his claim that there are 20 members of the violent group within the Compton station, with an additional 20 individuals who are either prospective members or close associates. Neither Black law enforcement officials nor female deputies are allowed to join the group, according to the claim.
The retired Marine also indicated in his filing that members can often be identified through tattoos, which feature a skeleton wearing military apparel while holding an AK-47. He further alleged in the claim that initiates receive their tattoos “after executing members of the public, or otherwise committing acts of violence in furtherance of the gang.”
“Nearly all the [Compton] Deputies who have been involved in high-profile shootings and out-of-policy beatings at [Compton] in recent years have been ‘inked’ members of The Executioners,” reads the filing.
However, The Executioners aren’t the only violent clique allegedly operating within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. According to the Times, other groups known as the Spartans, Regulators, Grim Reapers and Banditos are reportedly operating out of several department stations.
In an effort to address Gonzalez’s allegations, Sheriff Alex Villanueva remarked during a recent livestreamed event that “there is no gang of any deputies running any station,” before later issuing a follow-up statement that noted the claims would be investigated.
Additionally, Villanueva recalled a policy enacted in February that specifically addressed the creation of “illicit groups, deputy cliques and subgroups.” However, it’s unclear whether the policy has in fact been implemented.
At present, several investigations into the legal claims are underway.
Although a spokesperson for the FBI refused to confirm or deny whether the agency was involved in ongoing investigations, multiple people familiar with the inquiry have confirmed to the Times that the federal agency has been interviewing deputies. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Tuesday that it was working alongside FBI officials to look into the allegations.
The City of Compton is presently in its third year of a $22 million, five-year agreement with the sheriff’s department to provide the city with law enforcement officials, according to the Associated Press.
Citing state records regarding settlements, the Times has determined that Los Angeles County has paid an estimated $55 million in settlements for cases that involved deputies with alleged ties to secret groups over the department's history - $21 million which was disbursed in the last 10 years alone.