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LA County Inspector General to question dozens of deputies about gangs infiltrating the department

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The Los Angeles County Office of Inspector General is expected to start questioning deputies who may have information on the possible gangs operating within the sheriff's department.

"The Office of Inspector General is investigating law enforcement gang participation and police misconduct at the Sheriff's Department pursuant to Penal Code section 13670(b)," Inspector General Max Huntsman wrote.

In the letter, which was dated May 12, the IG said that the sheriff's department possessed evidence that the two gangs were "exclusive, secretive" and the department could not provide them with a list detailing the membership of each group. This shortcoming prompted the office to conduct "witness interviews" to determine how many deputies are in the Banditos and Executioners. 

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"Sheriff Robert Luna and his office have remained in communication with the Office of Inspector General regarding its investigation, and are aware that the letters were distributed. The Department supports any investigation that seeks to uncover wrongdoing, since all members of the Sheriff's Department are expected to hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards. Department members who engage in misconduct or criminal activity will not be tolerated and will be held accountable," the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.   

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According to Spectrum News, which originally reported on the letters, the OIG sent a total of 35 deputies believed to have information on members of the gangs. 

"Your cooperation is being sought because we believe you may have information regarding one of the two groups that may be law enforcement gangs, commonly referred to as the Banditos and the Executioners," the Inspector General wrote in a letter sent to deputies.

The Inspector General reminded deputies that — unless they assert their Fifth Amendment right to protect themselves from self-incrimination — they are required to answer his questions.

On the left is the apparent insignia of the deputy gang called the Executioners. On the right is the apparent insignia of the deputy gang called the Banditos.  Office of Inspector General

"Absent an assertion by you of your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, failure to answer may adversely affect your employment with Los Angeles County or your status as a certified police officer," the IG wrote. "While the Office of Inspector General is not part of the disciplinary process or certification process, your statements will be made available to the Sheriff's Department, Commission on Pace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and other governmental entities as legally appropriate." 

The OIG asked deputies compelled to speak to them to provide a photo of any tattoos on their left or right leg from the ankle to the knee. They were also asked to provide a photo of any tattoo that resembled the insignias connected to the two gangs. 

According to the questions outlined in the letter, the deputies will be asked if they have a similar tattoo, how they got the tattoo ad who might be in either gang. 

Deputies can have an attorney or any other representative present during the questions. Those that take the Fifth Amendment can be compelled to make a statement at another date.  

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