By The Vanguard Staff
LOS ANGELES, CA – Less than a year after a watchdog said more than 40 sheriff’s deputies were part of gang-like groups, an LA County deputy claims in a LA County Superior Court lawsuit he was abused when he would not join the group.
According to a story in the Los Angles Times about the lawsuit, Amayel Garfias is charging a new gang in East LA “harassed, assaulted and purposely put [him] in harm’s way,” and the county and sheriff’s personnel are legally responsible.
A year ago, the “Banditos” deputies in the LA station were named by the watchdog.
The LA Times cited a Loyola Marymount University report released in 2021 that identified 18 such law enforcement groups over five decades, with names like the “Executioners” in the Compton, “Reapers” in South LA and the “Banditos.”
The East LA station, said the LA Times, is also at the center of a lawsuit filed in 2019 by eight deputies who claim they were harassed by “Banditos” deputies who wouldn’t back up non-members and pressured them to resign.
In the new lawsuit, Garfias claims he was verbally harassed for not joining the “gang,” and physically attacked so badly he needed medical help, calling it in the lawsuit “malicious, willful, oppressive, and despicable conduct.”
Garfias said his higher ups knew about the treatment, and he filed a claim that led to the Sheriff Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau interviewing him, but the harassment ended only after Garfias stopped working after injury.
The LA Times, again citing the Loyola report, noted, “Several lawsuits against the County allege that Banditos members exercise de facto control over the East Los Angeles station and that LASD management has tolerated and even tacitly approved of their misconduct.”
The lawsuit doesn’t name a new group, but Garfias said it’s not the former “Banditos” gang, although it could be a subgroup.
After he became the new Sheriff in November, Sheriff Robert Luna said he would do things differently, and publicly acknowledged the gangs’ presence, said the LA Times in its story.
“You cannot ignore that there is a problem,” Luna told The Times. “It is very well-documented. I have talked to multiple employees who say this stuff does exist,” adding he planned to be transparent and may ask the Dept. of Justice or the FBI to investigate.