Federal authorities seized about 7.7 million doses of PCP and arrested 20 people in connection with a drug ring tied to a South Los Angeles street gang, officials announced Wednesday.
In two indictments, authorities charged 40 people with ties to the Grape Street Crips gang with dozens of counts, including possessing and distributing the highly addictive drug also known as "angel dust," illegal possession of specific illegal chemicals, maintaining a drug-involved property and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime.
Three of the defendants were in custody before Wednesday's arrests and 17 remained at large.
"Today's operation breaks the grip that these drug makers and dealers have held on the neighborhoods of Watts and South Los Angeles by targeting the highest levels of PCP traffickers and those responsible for manufacture and distribution of this deadly drug," U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement.
According to the indictment, men with aliases such as "Daddy-O," "King Dre" and "Boo Boo" spoke in coded language over the phone while discussing where to get the chemicals to produce PCP, where to buy the drugs and how much to charge. Two gallons of PCP could sell for as much as $20,000, according to the indictment.
The drug ring's leaders moved money and drugs through couriers who traveled by bus or by sending packages through Federal Express. In one incident highlighted in court documents, a courier was questioned by police in El Paso.
Authorities, listening in on the courier's phone, overheard him tell a ringleader he had hidden 96 ounces of PCP under another passenger's seat. He was not arrested that day but was eventually taken into custody.
In connection with this week's crackdown, L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer announced the city was seeking an injunction against three addresses that authorities said hosted drug dealing and dogfights and were loaded with weapons. The addresses are near education centers and elementary schools in South L.A.