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Feds: Mexican Mafia-Controlled Street Gang Robbed USC Students & Extorted Vendors

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Alameda Swap Meet (Photo by scani via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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A Mexican Mafia kingpin ran a dozen or so street gangs in South Los Angeles through his daughter and son-in-law, according to three federal grand jury indictments.

For more than two years, the feds have been investigating the Harpys street gang, which controls the area just southwest of downtown and north of USC. Mexican Mafia member Danny Roman called the shots for the Harpys gang plus a dozen others from behind bars in Pelican Bay State Prison, according to a release sent out by the Department of Justice.

The indictment says the gangs distributed drugs (meth, coke, crack and heroin), murdered a gang member who owed a debt and plotted to kill a witness in a state court case. The feds also say that the gang extorted vendors at the Alameda Swap Meet and targeted USC students in robberies.

The investigation into the gang's activity was called "Operation Roman Empire," though Danny himself wasn't named in the indictment. His daughter Vianna Roman, 37, and her husband Aaron Soto, 40, are accused of doing his bidding:

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According to the indictment, Danny Roman's daughter and her husband receive orders from the imprisoned Mexican Mafia member during trips to Pelican Bay in Northern California. They in turn pass Danny Roman's orders to the "shot caller" and other high-ranking members of Harpys, who oversee drug sales and violent conduct within both Harpys territory and the broader area controlled by Danny Roman. The Harpys shot caller also controls and enforces the collection of tax payments from the Latino gangs under Danny Roman's control and issues orders to other gangs regarding drug sales and the use of violence.

Vianna Roman, Soto and 16 others were taken into federal custody this morning, and 9 other defendants were named in the case.KPCC has a copy of the 110-page indictment, and LA Observed has more coverage.