Does LA County sheriff dept have a racism problem? Deputies sport Nazi tattoos, claims whistleblower

Does LA County sheriff dept have a racism problem? Deputies sport Nazi tattoos, claims whistleblower
(Getty Images)

The recent protests against police have led to defunding the law-enforcement agencies in many cities of the US, including Los Angeles. However, going by the claim made by a whistleblower, even the protests and defunding might not have found a complete remedy. In the claim filed against Los Angeles County in June, it has been said that the sheriff’s department has a gang of deputies who display tattoos of Nazi imagery and infiltrated a station to carry out civil rights abuses against the people. 

In the claim, Deputy Sheriff Ausrteberto Gonzalez said that roughly a fifth of the 100 deputies at the Compton patrol station belong to the gang which is called the ‘Executioners’. The filing also said that another 20 deputies were also considered to be ‘prospects’ or associates close to the gang. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva (Getty Images)

The deputy sheriff alleged that they used force, threats and work slowdowns and even took revenge against those who spoke out, Associated Press reported. Gonzalez alleged that the gang also targeted him for months after he anonymously reported a fellow deputy for allegedly beating up a co-worker in February this year, the AP report said.


Tattoo showing angry skeleton with Nazi helmet and AK-47

It was alleged in the filing that the ‘Executioners’ function at the Compton station with “impunity”. They are accused of acting against their fellow deputies and the people to better their own standing in the organization. Almost all the members sport a matching tattoo to symbolize their status. The tattoo features an angry-looking skeleton wearing a Nazi helmet and carrying an AK-47. According to the complaint, the weapon is associated with gang activity and not law enforcement. 


“Members become inked as 'Executioners' after executing members of the public, or otherwise committing acts of violence in furtherance of the gang,” the claim alleged. It was also said that African-American deputies and women were not allowed to join the gang. 

The claim further added that Deputy Jaime Juarez is the inked “shotcaller” for the ‘Executioners” and mentioned in detail how he and the gang took part in illegal work slowdowns and even stopped carrying out their duties so that they could impose their own will on the station. They were still paid their full salaries, the claim said. 
Gonzalez, who is a decorated Marine veteran who has been with the department since 2007 and has spent more than five years at the Compton location, also saw himself falling a victim of the gang’s activities, his claim said. The deputy sheriff has a sick daughter who requires serious medication and the former has to be by her side for care always. In 2016, Gonzalez wanted to take some time off to attend his daughter but claimed that Juarez, who was the Training and Scheduling Deputy at the time, refused and made him use the CFRA/FMLA leave.


Compton mayor seeks action

Even Compton’s civic leadership was seen in action. Aja Brown, the city’s mayor and a woman of color, called on both state and federal authorities on Tuesday, August 4, to probe the station which is under the scanner. The 38-year-old Brown said she was once pulled over along with her husband and infant daughter in the car and was asked by the deputies if they could search the vehicle for drugs, LAist reported. 

“I’m calling for Attorney General Xavier Becerra to stand up for the black and brown people of Compton. It is unacceptable for us to be terrorized in this community,” she said.

Gonzalez’s filing saw a response coming from Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who expressed dissatisfaction in the recent past over the idea of reimagining LA County by diverting funds for social service and racial justice programs. Last month, Villanueva said in a live Facebook broadcast that “swift administrative action” is being taken although he refused to acknowledge that there is a gang of deputies running any station. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a Facebook announcement on Tuesday, August 4, that the results of the investigation will be released when legally permissible. Villanueva ordered the investigation last month. 


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