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Investigation nabs alleged members of south Phoenix drug gang

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PHOENIX – Authorities arrested 28 people Wednesday accused of being part of a south Phoenix gang distributing the hallucinogen PCP shipped in from Los Angeles.

About 300 members of law enforcement participated in the culmination of a five-month investigation dubbed Operation Southland, serving 18 search warrants and seizing marijuana, cocaine, weapons, vehicles, prescription pills and $27,000, according to Sgt. Chas Clements of the Phoenix Police Department.

Clements said during a news conference that authorities were looking for about 15 other suspects who were likely affiliated with the gang.

“The people we are arresting are very violent,” he said.

The investigation involved police from multiple cities, the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Gang Intelligence Immigration Team Enforcement Mission (GITEM) task force and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

It began when Pinal County resident who involved in a separate case reported to authorities purchasing PCP in South Phoenix, authorities said. Officers then discovered that the gang connection to Los Angeles.

According to Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said the suspects were likely using the drug sales to fund criminal enterprises.

“In this case we found gang members who were selling drugs and we believe that were involved with violence as well, which is very common with illegal enterprises,” Thompson said.

Bart Graves, a DPS spokesman, said that the investigation will continue to ensure the entire operation is out of business.

“Just because we’re having a news conference to announce this doesn’t mean it’s wrapped up,” he said.

Thompson said Phoenix police will continue working with other law enforcement agencies in the future.

“One of the things that we find very beneficial is the synergistic relationship we have when we work with the state and local authorities,” he said.