Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sheriff announces dozens of arrests in Lock Street Gang inquiry

NEW PORT RICHEY — A long-term investigation into a loose band of Dade City area outlaws has sent dozens to jail and recovered thousands of dollars in drugs and stolen weapons, Sheriff Bob White said Thursday.

Pasco deputies, Dade City police officers and federal agents have since 2009 targeted stash houses, trafficking routes and associates of what is known as the Lock Street Gang, operating across east Pasco. Among the group's assets, now seized: $100,000 in stolen jewelry; $20,000 in revolvers, shotguns and rifles; and more than a pound each of cocaine and methamphetamine.

Yet unlike more organized street gangs, this group has little to keep it together. It has no leader or hierarchy, White said. He called them a "dysfunctional group" of street thugs, connected mostly from their joint involvement in crime.

" 'Gang' is probably giving them way too much credit," White said. "They're bad guys, make no mistake about it. But their level of education, their level of sophistication, is wanting."

The 31 suspects presented at White's Thursday news conference, ranging in age from 17 to 54, represent what he called "the worst of the group." Some are brothers or cousins. They are accused of everything from rape, kidnapping and arson to grand thefts, assaults and witness tampering. One man, Miguel Ibarra, 19, was charged in March with murder.

The group has faced 72 felony charges and five federal indictments, White said. Some were sentenced to state prison. Two convicted drug traffickers will spend years in a federal penitentiary, including David Hernandez, 29, who faces a sentence of 20 years.

"Their histories reflect that they have a wanton disregard for peace, for justice," said Trevor Velinor, an acting special agent in charge for the Tampa division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF and Drug Enforcement Administration agents helped with the investigation. "Their goal is to cause havoc in our community."

Lock Street serves as the main drag through Tommytown, home to migrant workers and the working poor. In 2004, activists from groups like Farmworkers Self-Help and the Teen Dream Team, who have fought to improve the community for years, earned a symbolic victory when the county gave the infamous road a second name: Calle de Milagros, the "Street of Miracles."

In recent years, millions of federal dollars have paved roads, laid water lines and razed crumbling houses in what federal housing officials call the state's largest redevelopment project of its kind.

But the investigation shows that challenges remain. In one picture, a shotgun and assault rifle are posed next to a swiped Calle de Milagros street sign.

Supposed "gang" symbols — the initials "LSG," the words "Dade City" and the "352" area code — are sprayed in graffiti across trash bins, storefronts and old fence posts. Some bear tattoos of the symbols.

"The Lock Street Gang moniker was used to create fear," White said. "It's a footprint. It's their advertisement. It's their billboard. It says, 'We're here, and we're in charge.' … You can see by their photographs — they're proud of it. And that makes them doubly dangerous."

The moniker, though, is nothing new. As early as 1996, Tommytown locals have said any group of young people without much to do has become affiliated with the "gang."

One teenager told the Times in 1996 that some kids assumed the name after hearing it from police. "They say we're LSG, so we're LSG," said Jose Sandoval, 16. "If they say we are, we are."

The timing of White's conference, scheduled four days before his public appearance in Tallahassee, recalls White's contracted battle with the county over his $85.5 million budget. White wants another $4 million, much of it for deputies patrolling west Pasco, and has lobbied county commissioners for months. On Monday, he is scheduled to appeal their decision to aides of the state Cabinet.

He made no mention of the budget but argued for the importance of additional support for deputies.

"This is why ongoing, proactive police presence is so important," White said. Though he said special teams of patrol deputies have addressed crime around Dade City, "That takes resources. And those are the resources this office has historically not had."

When asked why he had announced the years-old crackdown now, when most of the suspects were arrested last year, White pointed to the rigors of a long-term investigation.

"What happens is, about the time we think we're ready to announce this, another bad guy pops up and says, 'Hey, you want to buy some guns?' " White said. "We wait until we hook and book this guy, and by the time we're ready to make this announcement, we have to add another picture to the board. … It's kind of just drug out a little bit longer than we hoped it would drag out."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 869-6244 or

Sheriff announces dozens of arrests in Lock Street Gang inquiry 02/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 10, 2011 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]