We are now living in different times, folks. Back in the day cops and motorcycle gangs got into gun fights.
But in California? They sue each other.
In an unprecedented lawsuit, eight Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies Wednesday accused a group of their colleagues at the department's East L.A. station of being members of a secret "criminal gang" that violates their civil rights with a campaign of harassment and physical attacks.
The lawsuit describes in detail how members of the "Banditos" clique allegedly control station operations.
In one of the more explosive allegations, the lawsuit claims Banditos declined to provide backup to deputies they don't like, endangering them and the public.
The suit also claims Banditos encourage deputies to increase their arrest numbers by planting evidence on suspects.
A number of the allegations in the suit repeat assertions made in legal claims filed in March and May, including the charge that the Banditos named as defendants in the lawsuit attacked fellow deputies at a September 2018 off-duty party, leaving two unconscious and sending them to the hospital.
The lawsuit claims the department is "permeated by criminal gang culture."
The Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The deputies who filed the lawsuit include seven men and one woman. Two of the men are veterans with more than a decade on the job.
They were "threatened and bullied in attempts to get them to conform to the corrupt culture or leave the station," the suit alleges.
All eight requested transfers out of East L.A. and moved to other stations earlier this year, according to their attorney, Vincent Miller.
The Banditos are a group of nearly 100 deputies who wear matching tattoos of a skeleton with a thick mustache, sombrero, pistol and bandolier, according to the suit. It says about 30 members and prospects work at the East L.A. station, adding the others work elsewhere or have retired.
The Banditos control the East Los Angeles station "like inmates running a prison yard," the lawsuit alleges. It describes members of the group as maintaining control by intimidation of other deputies and control of key positions, including dispatcher, scheduling deputy and training officer.
The Banditos extract "taxes" from young Latino deputies for clique members' parties and travel, one of the deputies who filed the lawsuit told LAist. Even though he's one of the named plaintiffs, he requested anonymity out of fear that Banditos might harass him at his home or his new station because he spoke to the media.
"Other taxes take the form of sexual favors from female deputies," according to the complaint.
In 2014, L.A. County paid $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a female deputy who said she was bullied and harassed by Banditos.
Deputies based at the East L.A. station "have generated an excessive amount of stops and arrests in the community because of the pressure from the Banditos to inflate numbers, to satisfy ... illegal arrest quotas," the suit alleges.
Banditos also pressure deputies "to ignore constitutional protections which require there to be probable cause to stop and arrest civilians," which leads to the "planting and manufacture of evidence and other illegal acts," the complaint claims.