47 arrested in L.A. gang crackdown

LOS ANGELES Authorities began serving arrest warrants for 75 people before dawn Thursday in six cities, with a majority of them served in South L.A. The suspects are charged with state or federal crimes, mostly involving drugs and weapons.

The Rolling 40s Neighborhood Crips are known for selling drugs and committing violent crimes in South L.A. There are about 750 known members of the gang. Thursday, about 47 of them were arrested in a major raid conducted in the early morning.

The sweep, which targets the notorious Rolling 40s street gang, is being called "Operation 40 Ounces to Freedom." Forty is the amount in ounces of crack cocaine the gang deals.

Still dressed in pajamas, dozens of gang members were arrested Thursday morning. The sweep was part of the Los Angeles Police Department's 18-month-long investigation into the Rolling 40s. The Rolling 40s is seventh on the LAPD's list of the 12 most wanted gangs.

"Before the sun rose this morning, 1,100 members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, combined with the Los Angeles Police Department, served 47 search and arrest warrants throughout South Los Angeles," said Albanese.

A total of 74 gang members were charged in the indictment. Albanese said authorities seized two rifles and six handguns. The suspected gang members are accused of murder, robbery, extortion, and drug and gun sales.

"This case targeted the 'shot-callers' and major contributors of this drug distribution enterprise operating in the southwest area of Los Angeles," said Keith Bolcar, assistant acting director of the FBI.

"They're responsible for 70 percent of the homicides in that area, certainly responsible for over 2,500 robberies, 2,500 assaults," said Robert Clark, an FBI agent.

LAPD Chief William Bratton said this sweep, along with the raid of Avenues Gang in September, helps maintain the 30-percent decrease in gang crime in southwest L.A.

"Like a patient ill with cancer, this is going deep into the cancer source," said Bratton. "The challenge for us -- and this is why it's so critically important to maintain the size of the department -- is after we've removed them, to continue resources and working in those neighborhoods."

Along with the arrests, the L.A. City Attorney's Office has filed six lawsuits against South L.A. property owners that have aided gang members in the area.

Officials say this is just the beginning of their crackdown.

"We will use every single remedy, civil and criminal, at our disposal to get this job done," said L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. "And we will be back."

There were no injuries in Thursday's raids. There are still about 27 gang members listed in the indictment that are still at large. Those that have been arrested, if convicted, face from five years to life in prison.

Eyewitness News Reporters Melissa MacBride and Subha Ravindhran contributed to this report.

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