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L.A. gang targeted in major operation

June 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of local, state and federal officers staged a major operation Wednesday morning targeting a notorious Los Angeles gang.The raids, centered in northeast Los Angeles, targeted the Avenues Street Gang, especially its Drew Street members. A multi-agency task force began serving search and arrest warrants around 4 a.m.

Click the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch Lisa Hernandez's report from downtown Los Angeles.

Officers searched about 100 addresses and rounded up dozens of suspects. One by one they were taken into custody. The predawn raids shut down the surrounding area overrun by gang violence.

"As you're well aware, [there's been] a major gang problem in this neighborhood for an awful long time," said LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell. "So hopefully this will be a step, a good step in the right direction to turn this neighborhood around."

"We have probably at least 10 SWAT teams, special teams," said Nina Delgadio from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "And the reason for them is that we come in to do a large-scale operation and we want to maximize the safety for everybody involved, the officers as well as the occupants and the residents that live in this community."

The raids complete a 10-month investigation into the Avenues Street Gang. Authorities say the gang has a history of murder, drug trafficking, carjacking, home-invasion robberies and witness intimidation.

Residents admit there is a major gang problem in the neighborhood, which sits in between Glendale and Glassell Park. Every corner, every lightpost, even the asphalt in the neighborhood is tagged, a reminder of the gang's influence.

Local and federal officials worked together on the raids, which led to a number of early morning arrests.

"Anytime you have, you know, gang activity going on in a neighborhood it really shuts down the neighborhood," said Sarah Pullen from the Drug Enforcement Administration. "And it just causes so much, you know, complications with everyday life, whether it's violence, drug dealing, you know, guns. And, just, it really takes the community away from the people who live here. So today's operation hopefully will make this place a lot safer for those members."

The criminal investigation of the Avenues Street Gang included federal indictments with the assistance of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Attorney's Office also assisted the Los Angeles Police Department in the operation.

 

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