Massive Sweep of Racist Gang Members in California

  • December 20, 2006

Police in Southern California have arrested 67 members of a racist skinhead gang as a result of a hit list targeting law enforcement.

Over 300 local, state and federal investigators rounded up members of the racist skinhead gang Public Enemy Number One (PENI) in a massive sweep on December 14, 2006, after an investigation uncovered alleged threats to assault and kill members of local law enforcement agencies, including an Orange County gang prosecutor and five officers from different police departments. The officers carried out search warrants at 74 locations, uncovering numerous illegal weapons, drugs, and parole and probation violations. 

PENI has evolved in recent years from a loose knit group of anarchist punk music fans and casual drug users to an extremely violent racist skinhead organization that has immersed itself in the methamphetamine trade, identity theft, and credit card fraud across much of Southern California.  Formed in Long Beach in the 1980s, the group was originally named after the British punk band Rudimentary PENI. The gang quickly spread across the state, including into California's prison system, where members often work with the Aryan Brotherhood.

The group is generating a lengthy criminal record. In March 2006, law enforcement in Orange County arrested 23 PENI members and recovered 12 guns while executing search warrants in 16 Orange County cities after a threat to an Orange County sheriff's deputy who was investigating the group. 

Several members are serving time for assaults, attempted murder and murder. In 2004, after stopping a pickup truck with PENI members inside in Riverside County, officers found a dead body wrapped in plastic in the back of the truck. Prosecutors say the victim was beaten to death with a claw hammer for stealing money from the former girlfriend of a gang member. Seven people pleaded guilty to charges connected to the death, and two others are awaiting trial.

More arrests are expected.