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L.A. gang targeted in massive raid

September 22, 2009 7:13:17 AM PDT
More than 1,000 officers took part in a massive police crackdown on the Avenues street gang, arresting dozens of suspected gang members early Tuesday morning.Search warrants executed in Glassell Park implicated the gang in a string of felony crimes, including gun trafficking, witness intimidation, extortion and the murder of an L.A. County Sheriff's deputy.

Officials say the Avenues gang has terrorized the Glassell Park for more than 40 years. The residents have suffered tremendously under the gang. Officials say they believe Tuesday morning's sweep will help dismantle the violent street gang.

Tuesday morning, there are signs that the gang's alleged stranglehold on the community may be broken.

"There are 50 Avenues gang members who were on the street yesterday, and as of 4 a.m. this morning, they are not on the street today," said LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck.

SWAT officers moved into the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood as police rounded up dozens of wanted suspects, all alleged members of the Avenues street gang.

"It got a little better, and then lately, it's getting bad again," said Glassell Park resident Alma Juan.

Nearly 90 suspects are named in the federal racketeering indictment, which alleges a host of criminal acts, including car-jacking, robbery, narcotics trafficking and murder.

One of the murder victims was L.A. Sheriff's deputy Juan Escalante, who was gunned down in August 2008 in front of his parents' home in Cypress Park. Officials said he was targeted by gang members. Escalante worked as a guard at the Men's Central Jail.

There were no reports of resistance while serving the warrants, but two aggressive dogs were shot at one location, according to the L.A. Times.

Police have not released how many suspects were taken into custody.

Investigators said they have ironclad evidence in all crimes, and feel very confident they will be able to convict all of the suspects that were arrested.

More than 1,300 federal, state and local officers were involved in the raids executed at 47 locations throughout L.A., San Bernardino and Kern counties. The vast majority of the raids was served in the northeast section of Los Angeles.

Authorities said they hope this will be the end of the gang, and say they can finally return the neighborhood back to residents.

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