Today (May 12) Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist charged 11 people in gang-related crimes occurring from October 2010 through May 12, 2011. The Lakewood Police Department, in conjunction with the South Sound Gang Task Force, an organization made up of local and federal law enforcement agencies, investigated these cases. The Prosecutor’s Office Gang Unit and Drug Unit worked closely with law enforcement on this coordinated effort to reduce gang violence.
The 11 defendants are alleged to be members or associates of the Tillicum Park Gangsters (TPG). The TPG is known by the Lakewood Police Department Special Operations Unit as a criminal street gang associated with the Tillicum neighborhood of Lakewood. Members of TPG have committed numerous crimes in the Tillicum community, including murder, drive-by shootings, narcotics trafficking, weapons violations, and witness intimidation. At least 12 other TPG members have been sent to prison over the last five years, the majority for violent crimes.
All 11 of the current defendants are charged with Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance, and two are also charged with Robbery in the First Degree with firearm enhancements. Nine of the twelve are in custody. Officers are searching for the remaining three.
“Our deputy prosecutors in the Gang Unit are committed to using every tool at their disposal to reduce gang violence in our community,” Prosecutor Lindquist said. “I commend the Lakewood Police Department and the South Sound Task Force for their thorough investigations and their commitment to making our community safer.”
Lakewood Police Department Chief Farrar said, “This gang sweep was successful due to the combined efforts of local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, and the Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation was effective and well managed because of a dedicated Gang Unit in the Prosecutor’s Office that worked closely with law enforcement.”
The Prosecutor’s Office has worked with law enforcement on other large-scale gang sweeps, including a successful prosecution of 34 members and associates of the Hilltop Crips, and 19 members and associates of the Eastside Lokotes Sureñ os. The prosecution of the Hilltop Crips resulted in 34 convictions. The cases against the Eastside Lokotes Sure ños are still pending.
These charges are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court. Arraignments begin at 1:30 p.m. on May 12 in the County-City Building in Tacoma.