More than 120 suspected gang members were arrested Tuesday in a strike against the Mexican Mafia.


About 800 local, state and federal law enforcement officers arrested 129 suspects indicted on a variety of murder, extortion, racketeering, drug and weapons charges in Orange County as part of “Operation Smokin’ Aces.”

Police said they seized 22 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.5 pounds of heroin and 3 pounds of cocaine, and the FBI said undercover officers purchased 38 handguns and 29 rifles in connection with the sweep.

Investigators said members of the prison gang ordered assaults on 12 inmates, including one man whose head was stapled 20 times, in the Orange County Jail for failure to pay drug taxes.

According to court documents, the Mexican Mafia sought and received payments from other Orange County gangs in exchange for freely committing crimes in the area’s Latino neighborhoods.

“The indictments allege a host of criminal conduct, and provide, quite frankly, a chilling portrait of criminal activity and mayhem,” said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Andre Birrote.

Peter Ojeda, described by investigators as the head of the gang’s Orange County wing, was not charged in the roundup, but he’s awaiting trial in another racketeering conspiracy case from 2011.

The Mexican Mafia was founded by 13 inmates at a California juvenile detention facility in 1957 to protect themselves from other prison gangs.

[Image via Wikipedia Commons]