“I’ve got 24 years in LAPD, ex-military, secret clearance and I have to wait 10 days to get a new firearm and these guys are going into these containers with no locks and getting guns,” said Capt. German Hurtado, who oversees the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Division, where the rail yards are located. “These guns were unguarded, unprotected… God knows how many guns have been stolen that way.”
Only a handful of the 82 guns known to have been stolen from trains passing through the Eastside neighborhood have been recovered. Investigators are not yet sure how many other weapons may have been pilfered, Hurtado said.
A gang in L.A.’s Eastside orchestrated the thefts, according to LAPD detectives. Feuding over who would profit from the stolen weaponry taken from the Union Pacific train yards appears to have been behind the killing of a person involved in the thefts, according to multiple law enforcement sources who were not authorized to speak publicly.
The realization that so many guns had been taken from trains — and the possibility that many more may have been stolen too — was chilling, Hurtado said.
“This is bigger than we thought. They aren’t just stealing shoes and stuff. This is an organized crime to the level they are stealing guns,” he said.
— Richard Winton and Rachel Uranga in Scores of guns stolen from trains cause more problems in L.A.