The Los Angeles police gangs you should know

Spartans, Regulators, Grim Reapers and the Banditos. These are just some of the names of the gangs that run the largest sheriff’s department in the world. 

The first publicly-reported case of a “neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang” within the Lynwood station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department occurred in just 1971, with a totaled $9 million lawsuit involving the Vikings, whose members were eventually fired or resigned. Though LA County is familiar with these secret societies and the continual acts of murder, perjury, blackmail and other forms of police brutality, newly-elected District Attorney George Gascón denied the existence of gangs within his department.

In February 2021, a Superior Court judge dismissed the latest lawsuit from a deputy and veteran in the Compton Sheriff’s Station who called out the Executioners and their criminal activity, illegal arrest quotas and unlawful punishments. Another 63-page lawsuit in October exposed the Banditos, one of the most notorious gangs currently taking over the county, as promoting violence and criminal behavior towards local residents. 

Along with retaliation and battery claims from other officers, Black and women deputies are reportedly not allowed in these cliques (though a gang consisting of Black officers has also been discovered). Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has denied the existence of gangs, yet allegations say he is one of the prominent ringleaders of the Banditos. The group of 90 deputies mark themselves with matching tattoos of a skeleton with mustache, sombrero, and pistols control the East LA station. 

The police murders of Anthony Vargas and Andres Guardado were victims of the police gang “initiation” process. Despite the composition of a few notorious LA police gangs, they all uphold racism and white supremacy. It’s why they are allowed to exist. Police gangs, predominantly white, are primarily responsible for the 900 killings by police since 2000. Almost all of them being men and nearly 80% Black or Latinx. Within Los Angeles alone, reporters, journalists and whistleblowers have accounted for more than a dozen gangs currently present in the sheriff’s department, yet time and time again we see lawsuits overturned, internal investigations coming back with no findings, and county officials denying any existence of historical claims. 

The truth lies beyond the LASD’s farce and seems nearly untouchable from the latest findings that shootings in Los Angeles have more than doubled this year alone, while overall crime has dropped 26%. A federal grand jury investigation has opened its own probe into the Banditos, though it is still unclear what their findings were from the 2011 investigation into reports of inmate abuse from deputies working in county jails and countless episodes of corruption and mismanagement in the sheriff’s department.