I attended a press conference Tuesday at the Sheriff’s Office in the county government Center.

Sheriff Geoff Dean and District Attorney Greg Totten both explained the purpose of the meeting, which was the arrests by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, and the indictment by the District Attorney, of 27 members of Ventura County gangs and members of the “Mexican Mafia” gang. According to Assistant Sheriff Gary Pentis, “We have incapacitated the organization from the top through its geographic managers.” Charges range from conspiring to commit assault likely to cause serious bodily injury, and extortion, to home invasion robbery and narcotics trafficking.

“All of the suspects are documented members of several local gangs in Ventura County. The unusual aspect of this case was that they were working in conjunction with and for the benefit of a highly organized prison gang hierarchy controlled by the Mexican Mafia or “La Eme.” Every one of Ventura County’s ten cities were in some way involved in this conspiracy.

“All of the criminal activity was organized and coordinated by one high ranking member of the Mexican Mafia from a prison outside California.” What is unusual here is that the Mexican Mafia, through intimidation and threats, has forced all rival Ventura County criminal gangs to comply with the taxing of criminal income from narcotics trading, through threats and violence. While gang activity in Ventura County is common, as elsewhere, cooperation among rival gangs is unprecedented.

Being a highly complex investigation, it required the cooperation of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, Oxnard Police Department, Ventura County Probation Agency, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, for a period of seven months.

This case involved the activities of organized crime, purely and simply, not the more typical neighborhood gang. The Mexican Mafia has spread throughout the nation, based largely in prisons.

I see this case as a reminder that criminal gangs are as threatening to American freedom as Islamic terrorism, and should be treated as such. Over the last couple of decades criminal gangs have grown exponentially. Los Angeles County alone has more than 150,000 gang members, of virtually every ethnic composition. These people will become an immediate threat to all law-abiding citizens in the event of a major terrorist event. It will take a strong, sophisticated, multi-capable police force to cope with that threat when it happens, as it does now with the current threat.

It does not help the cause of freedom and security to have Barack Obama for another four years!