Today’s News: Ventura organized crime bust; Senators demand gas probe; Massive Burbank Ikea planned

Written by

Organized crime. Ventura prosecutors have unsealed what they’re calling the most widespread criminal indictment in that county’s history. More than two dozen people are charged with crimes ranging from drug sales to murder – most allegedly in the service of the Mexican Mafia. Law enforcement officials say the case is unusual but because rival gangs worked together on drug deals, extortion schemes and violent attacks. The cooperation could be a sign that Mexican drug cartels are trying to expand their control over drug trafficking in California. L.A. Times

Fostering safety. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has given the go-ahead to create a task force to help prevent foster children from turning to prostitution. Supervisor Mike Antonovich introduced the motion. He says children in the county’s foster care system are particularly vulnerable because they come from broken homes, many with a history of abuse and neglect. L.A. Times

Gas pains
. All six West Coast U.S. Senators are asking the Justice Department to probe the possible role of oil refineries in two major gasoline price spikes this year. California gas prices shot up nearly 60 cents over just 11 days in October, and there was a similar spike in May. The senators say fuel supplies were stable during the run-ups – and they want to know if the refineries made false or misleading statements that affected gas prices. APHospital grades. Officials at UCLA Medical Center say a watchdog group that gave the hospital a failing grade for patient safety is doing a disservice to the public. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is generally considered one of the top hospitals in the country. But the Leapfrog Group – an employer based non-profit – gave UCLA an F for its performance preventing medical errors, infections and patient deaths. UCLA says the test criteria are unfair. Cedars-Sinai received an A in Leapfrog’s initial report in June. But this time, the highly regarded L.A. hospital was downgraded to a C. L.A. Times

Shot down. A federal judge has rejected a National Rifle Association effort to block enforcement of two San Francisco gun laws. One requires handgun owners to keep weapons locked up when they’re stored at home. The other bans bullets that can expand or splinter. The NRA said the laws were infringements on their constitutional right to possess guns at home for self defense. But judge said the laws don’t violate standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court. S.F. Chronicle

Assembly required. If you’ve been to Ikea’s Burbank store, you know it’s a big place. But it’s apparently not nearly big enough for the Swedish retailer. Ikea is proposing to build its largest U.S. store yet  at a new location in Burbank. At 470,000 square feet, the planned store is more than double the size of the current Burbank store. If it’s approved, the new Ikea would be built on a 22-acre lot next to the 5 Freeway. A spokesman says the company hopes to start construction in 2015. L.A. Daily News