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20 people sentenced for sham marriages, drug trafficking

File: caution tape.
Steve Dinn/Flickr
File: caution tape.

Twenty people were scheduled to be sentenced Monday for running a scheme in which illegal immigrants would pay tens of thousands of dollars to marry American women and get green cards.

The arrests capped a long-running operation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Sheriff’s Department and six different police departments. Most of the suspects are members of a San Gabriel Valley street gang called the Red Door.

Operation "Paint It Black" lasted for about two years and resulted in the 20 arrests, along with the seizure of seven firearms, 12,500 ecstasy pills, 2,230 marijuana plants and a Lamborghini.

Prosecutors say that in addition to the marriage racket, the gang also distributed drugs like ecstasy and was involved in marijuana cultivation at grow houses throughout L.A. County.

The indictment includes three specific sham marriages through which the immigrants involved received green cards; among them were Malaysians, Chinese and Koreans in their 20s and 30s.