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Sheriff's Deputies In Secret 'Banditos' Group Accused Of Hazing, Sexually Harrassing Female Trainees

An L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. patrol car (Photo by KingoftheHill. via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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A deputy has accused members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. of having a secret club called "Banditos" that hazes female trainees and tries to get them to provide sexual favors.

Guadalupe Lopez, who filed a lawsuit this week, has worked in the Sheriff's Dept. for ten years and at the East Los Angeles Sheriff's station in Boyle Heights starting in 2011, according to NBC News. (She is now working in a different department.) In a 33-page complaint, she claimed that there are about 80 deputies in Banditos that would tell trainees that if they performed sexual acts they would help them move forward in their careers. Namely, they would make sure the trainees could start off the bat as full-time patrol deputies and not at the L.A. County Jail, a place rookies get sent to.

"Plaintiff was made to understand that she was expected to be ‘One of the Girls,’ which included drinking, partying, and the fulfillment of the ‘sexual needs’ of her male training officers and their associates," according to the filing.

She said that the Banditos members had the same tattoos—a skeleton wearing a sombrero, strapped with an ammunition belt while holding a gun.

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However, when Lopez refused to partake in the Banditos' demands, a deputy told her that she would "have problems here," the lawsuit claimed. She said that deputies chased her car off the road and forcibly pushed against a wall in retaliation.

Although the department didn't have a comment for NBC Los Angeles, a source close to the investigation said 10 employees were disciplined or transferred for these accusations. Lopez is seeking unspecified damages in her lawsuit.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. has faced major controversies over the past year, notably for hiring shady employees on its force and an FBI crackdown on abuse of inmates and visitors at the county jail. Sheriff Lee Baca resigned from his post in January amidst all the scandals.