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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Los Angeles police take on street gang UPDATED

    Los Angeles police take on street gang

    Posted 13m ago

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A notorious street gang accused of terrorizing a neighborhood for years and killing a sheriff's deputy was the target of a coordinated assault by hundreds of law enforcement officials Tuesday.

    Local police working with federal agents carried out a string of early-morning raids seeking key members of the Avenues street gang, a long-standing group that claims as its territory a swath of northeast Los Angeles. About 90 suspects were named in a massive federal racketeering indictment detailing criminal activity spanning more than a decade.

    Officers in full body armor were seen at dawn Tuesday at a blocked-off staging area at the Dodger Stadium parking lot, where suspects were being processed at a portable booking area as media helicopters hovered overhead.

    Scores of search warrants were served at 4 a.m. from Los Angeles to Kern County, and all the suspects were quickly rounded up, said Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz. Within hours, several tattooed, shirtless men in handcuffs populated the parking lot.

    There is "ironclad evidence of the crimes," Diaz said at the staging area.

    "Our goal is to ... move these people out, occupy this community and support the law abiding people that deserve to live in dignity here."

    Aside from murdering rivals, dealing drugs, graffiti tagging and other gang crimes, the gang is accused of making threats and carrying out acts of violence against police officers, culminating in two attacks that rocked the law enforcement community last year.

    The first of these, in February 2008, saw Avenues gang members open fire with handguns and an AK-47 on Los Angeles police officers. Police shot back, killing 20-year-old Daniel Leon and injuring another man.

    Then on Aug. 2, 2008, off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Juan Escalante was shot dead in front of his parents' home in the Cypress Park neighborhood northeast of downtown.

    Even before the killing, authorities were investigating the Avenues, but his death increased the urgency of the operation. Earlier this year, police charged three men in Escalante's death and a fourth suspect remains at large.

    The indictment details several possible motives for the murder. Carlos Velasquez, one of the men accused of killing the deputy, was heard in a wire-tapped telephone conversation telling another Avenues gang member that he killed Escalante in retribution for the death of Leon, nicknamed "Clever."

    "Clever took one with him," the indictment states Velasquez said.

    The 222-page indictment also alleges Avenues members posted inflammatory remarks on websites, including "Avenidas don't get chased by the cops. We chase them," and, "Avenidas don't just hurt people. We kill them."

    Members of the largely Hispanic gang would also spray paint racist threats around neighborhoods to intimidate black people, according to prosecutors.

    "This indictment attacks a criminal organization that has terrorized a community for generations," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Brunwin, the lead prosecutor in the case. "With all of the information collected over the past year, we assembled an indictment that led to dozens of arrests this morning and will make a significant difference in the neighborhoods in northeastern Los Angeles."

    Tuesday's operation marks an ongoing focus on the Avenues gang, which gets its name from a series of streets running through the area.

    In June 2008, another federal indictment took aim at the Drew Street clique of the gang. Prosecutors said Drew Street was the most active and violent clique within the Avenues and it produced significant drug-sale revenues for the Mexican Mafia, a prison-based gang that oversees much of Southern California's street gang activity.

    That investigation resulted in the arrest of several of the clique's alleged leaders. Afterward, Mexican Mafia leaders attempted to re-organize the Avenues' presence in northeast Los Angeles by ending the clique rivalries within the gang and naming new Avenue leaders, Tuesday's indictment states.

    Though incarcerated, Mexican Mafia leaders are able to communicate with street gangs through conversations on cellphones that are smuggled into prisons, as well as by passing folded notes to visitors.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/200 ... ests_N.htm
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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Avenues gang has a long, violent history in Los Angeles

    Avenues gang has a long, violent history in Los Angeles

    September 22, 2009 | 9:24 am

    The large gang raid this morning in Los Angeles targets a gang with a long history of violence.

    The Avenues gang is named for the avenues that cross Figueroa Street in Northeast Los Angeles, where the gang claims Highland Park and parts of Cypress Park, Glassell Park and Eagle Rock as its turf.

    The group, which is linked to the Mexican Mafia prison gang, has a history of shootings and killings dating from at least the 1950s.

    The Avenues gained national attention in 1995, when several members opened fire on a car that made a wrong turn into a Cypress Park alley, killing 3-year-old Stephanie Kuhen.

    Gang members were also accused of the August 2008 killing of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Abel Escalante, 27, who worked at the Men's Central Jail guarding some of the county's most dangerous inmates. Escalante was gunned down outside his parents' Cypress Park home as he prepared to go to work.

    In 2006, four members of the gang were convicted of violating federal hate crime laws through a series of chilling assaults and killings aimed at driving African Americans from the predominantly Latino community.

    Among the crimes committed by the Avenues from 1995 to 2001, according to trial testimony: shooting a 15-year-old boy riding a bike; kicking open the door of a 21-year-old man's home and fatally shooting him in the head as he lay on a futon; hitting a jogger in the head with a pistol; drawing outlines of human bodies in chalk on a family's driveway, along with a racial slur; and knocking a woman off her bike and threatening her husband with a box cutter.

    --Bettina Boxall

    Mourners at the scene of a 2008 shooting of sheriff's Deputy Juan Abel Escalante, allegedly by an Avenues gang member. Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2 ... geles.html
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Massive raid in Glassell Park nabs 44 Avenues gang members

    September 22, 2009 | 9:53 am

    Warrants in hand, teams of officers departed a massive command center in Elysian Park around 3 a.m. and descended on dozens of homes in search of 54 alleged members or associates of the Avenues gang who were wanted on an array of federal charges related to the gang's extensive drug dealing, unsolved murders and other crimes.

    Within hours, 44 of the men and women were in custody, according to LAPD Capt. Kevin McClure, who is overseeing the operation. The others remained at large and are being sought. Among the arrested was Tammy Armstrong, a state corrections officer accused of aiding members of the gang currently incarcerated. Several weapons were also confiscated.

    With more than three dozen other suspects already in custody on unrelated crimes, the operation aimed to bring fresh criminal charges against 88 Avenues members or associates, a significant share of a gang that is believed to have about 400 members.

    Some suspects were sought elsewhere in the city and in other counties, but the sweep focused on Glassell Park and other neighborhoods in the northeastern reaches of Los Angeles — the center of Avenues territory since the gang first surfaced in the 1950s.

    There were no reports of officers encountering violent resistance. San Bernardino County sheriff's officers shot two aggressive dogs they encountered at one location, police said.

    More typical of the morning was the scene that unfolded on Estara Street in Glassell Park. LAPD SWAT team members quietly surrounded a home in search of a pair of brothers, Norberto and Roberto Salazar. Using a bullhorn, a SWAT officer ordered the occupants out of the house. Several dazed looking women carrying small children wrapped in blankets emerged and were taken aside for questioning. They were followed shortly by Norberto Salazar, who was walked down the street in stiff plastic handcuffs and wearing baggy white shorts and a white tank top.

    On the street corner, beneath a sign advertising check cashing at the El Ranchito meat market, Salazar spoke quietly with detectives for several minutes before being led away to a waiting car. He is accused of directing other Avenues members to commit several violent or drug-related crimes. His brother, who is accused in a beating of a man, was not found at the house.

    The operation culminated a yearlong investigation of the gang that had been headed jointly by a unit of LAPD detectives that specializes in gang-related homicides and a DEA task force. The group turned its focus on the Avenues in the wake of the August 2008 slaying of Juan Abel Escalante, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. Escalante, 27, was gunned down outside of his parents' Cypress Park home early in the morning as he headed to work as a guard at the Men's Central Jail.

    LAPD detectives led the murder investigation into the killing because it occurred within city boundaries. Within days of the shooting, agents from the DEA task force, which had previously investigated the Avenues, came to detectives with information they had gathered that indicated members of the gang may have been responsible.

    That tip led to the arrest in December of two Avenues members in connection with the murder. Months later, a third member was taken into custody, and charges were brought against a fourth, who remains a fugitive. In the course of investigating the Escalante killing, however, the LAPD detectives and DEA agents delved into the inner workings of the Avenues and began compiling evidence related to a host of other alleged crimes.

    Some of the information was collected during interrogations of Avenues members and others from the neighborhood who had been arrested by a special team of 54 uniformed gang officers deployed in the area. Much of the incriminating information, however, came from the suspects themselves as DEA agents secured approval from federal judges for an array of wiretaps that allowed them to listen in on gang members' phone conversations.

    "They could have just stuck with Escalante," McClure said. "They could have said, 'We got what we came for,' packed it up and moved on to something that would have been easier. This operation was not a result of me telling them they have to do this. It is a result of this unit saying, 'There is more here, let's keep going.'"

    Over the course of the investigation, cases were built against Avenues members for their alleged roles in six other unsolved murders and four attempted murders, police said. The bulk of the charges, however, involve extortion and other crimes that Avenues members and associates allegedly committed as part of the gang's extensive drug trafficking in the area, police say. Most of the Avenues members and associates included in the indictment are being charged under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which allows prosecutors to pursue more serious prison sentences.

    At a planning briefing last week with representatives from the agencies involved, there was little question as to what had kept the group motivated.

    With the auditorium at LAPD headquarters filled with a few hundred officers, a recording was played of the phone call Escalante's wife made to a 911 dispatcher after discovering him in the street. "If anyone has any doubt about the rationale or reason behind this operation, it was this," a detective said.

    During a final briefing at the command post this morning, however, LAPD Cmdr. Pat Gannon reminded the officers, "This is not about payback. This is about us being professional, doing our jobs and putting people behind bars."

    After several weeks of painstaking planning, the sweep went off without any major problems. Once taken into custody, suspects were transported back to the command post, which took on a surreal quality as the day's first light revealed dozens of handcuffed men and women being processed in an assembly-line fashion in the middle of a sprawling parking lot dotted with hundreds of police vehicles and catering trucks to feed hungry officers.

    The Avenues gang, named for the avenues that cross Figueroa Street, has a long, ugly history dating back at least to the 1950s, when it was linked to many shootouts and killings. It is thought by some that the group's origins can be traced back to some of the hundreds of families displaced from Chavez Ravine, now home to Dodger Stadium, and the Rose Hill area.

    The group's insignia, which many members have tattooed on their bodies, is a skull with a bullet hole in it and wearing a fedora. Various cliques of the Avenues claim Highland Park and parts of Cypress Park, Glassell Park and Eagle Rock as their territory. It is linked closely to the Mexican Mafia prison gang, which demands that the Avenues and other Eastside gangs send up a share of the taxes they collect from low-level drug dealers and others selling goods on their turf.

    Today's sweep is hardly the first time law enforcement has taken on the Avenues. In 2002, the city attorney won an injunction against the gang, making it illegal for members to congregate throughout much of Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park and Eagle Rock. A few years later, federal prosecutors won hate-crime convictions against Avenues members for the killings of three black men between 1995 and 2000.

    Government attorneys argued that the Avenues launched a campaign of violence to force black people out of the Highland Park area in the 1990s and targeted the men simply because of their race. In 2007, the city used a narcotics-abatement lawsuit to shut down the home of a family at the center of the Avenues' Drew Street clique.

    At the time, then-City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo called the house the gang's "mother ship." In February of last year, the gang re-erupted into the city's public consciousness when police said Drew Street members gunned down a man as he stood on a curb holding his 2-year-old granddaughter's hand.

    They brazenly took on police in a running gun battle, firing at officers with an AK-47 assault rifle in broad daylight. Most recently, in June 2008, the DEA task force that came to LAPD detectives with information on the Escalante killing conducted a similar, but smaller, operation to the one carried out today. That investigation named 70 defendants.

    At the time, LAPD officials assured residents of the area that they would work to keep the gang from reclaiming control of the neighborhoods. Drug activity and violence in the area has slowed considerably in recent months, police said, but considering the size of today's operation, the gang has maintained a commanding presence.

    More than last year's sweep, today's operation struck deeper at the guts of gang, targeting higher-level members who play central roles in running the day-to-day operations of the gang. Most prominent on the list of suspects taken into custody was Rudy Aguirre Jr. Aguirre had established himself as a crucial bridge to the outside for several of the gang's leaders in Pelican Bay State Prison, said Christopher Brunwin, the assistant U.S. attorney leading the effort to prosecute those arrested.

    "The roots of this gang and others like it run so deep that the idea of completely eliminating it is not a realistic goal," said LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck. "But eliminating its ability to operate as a criminal enterprise is realistic. We have taken a big step in that direction today."

    -- Joel Rubin reporting from Glassell Park and Elysian Park

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2 ... mbers.html
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  4. #4
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    DEA, Partners Attack Notorious L.A. Avenues Gang

    News Release
    September 22, 2009
    Contact: SA Mike Williams
    Public Information Officer
    Number: 213-276-3033

    DEA, Partners Attack Notorious L.A. Avenues Gang

    RICO Case Outlines Mexican Mafia-led Attempts to Retool the Avenues after 2008 Federal Indictment Dismantled the Gang's Lucrative Drew Street Clique

    SEP 22 -- LOS ANGELES -- DEA, LAPD and other law enforcement officials today announced that 88 members and associates of the Avenues street gang in northeast Los Angeles have been named in a wide-ranging federal racketeering indictment unsealed this morning. The indictment alleges a host of crimes, including the murder of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Escalante. As part of these charges, coordinated takedowns occurred throughout Southern California, resulting in 4 5 arrests, and 15 children taken into protective custody. Five additional individuals were also arrested as part of state charges or parole violations. 33 individuals named in the indictment were already in custody prior to today's takedown, totaling 83 arrest as a result of the year-long investigation.

    According to the 222-page indictment returned by a federal grand jury last Thursday and unsealed this morning, members and associates of the Avenues are part of a criminal enterprise that engaged in a host of criminal acts, including murders, conspiracies to commit murder, attempted murders, narcotics trafficking, robberies, extortions, money laundering and witness intimidation. At the center of racketeering case are allegations that the Mexican Mafia sought to reorganize the gang and regain the power the Avenues lost after a federal indictment last year targeted the Drew Street clique of the gang (see: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/cac/pressroom/pr2008/088.html).

    “For too long, these drug dealers have poisoned our streets and put fear into innocent people across our communities,
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    No IAs among those 88 I bet.
    (sarcasm)
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  6. #6
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratbstard
    No IAs among those 88 I bet.
    (sarcasm)
    I think that gang uses E-VERIFY to weed them out.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    I.C.E. News Release

    September 22, 2009

    Federal racketeering indictment charges 88 members of notorious Los Angeles street gang

    5 members of Avenues street gang charged in murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy

    LOS ANGELES - Eighty-eight members and associates of the Avenues street gang in northeast Los Angeles have been named in a wide-ranging federal racketeering indictment unsealed this morning that alleges a host of crimes, including the August 2008 murder of Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy Juan Escalante.

    This morning, during a massive operation involving approximately 1,300 federal, state and local law enforcement personnel, including agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 45 defendants were arrested on criminal charges in the racketeering indictment. Thirty-three of the defendants named in the indictment were already in custody.

    Authorities continue to search for 10 other defendants named in the indictment. Additionally, five people were arrested on state criminal charges and parole violations. As a result, a total of 83 people are now in custody in connection with the year-long investigation into the Avenues.

    According to the 222-page indictment returned by a federal grand jury last Thursday and unsealed this morning, members and associates of the Avenues are part of a criminal enterprise that engaged in a host of criminal acts, including murder, attempted murder, narcotics trafficking, robbery, extortions, money laundering and witness intimidation. At the center of the racketeering case are allegations that the Mexican Mafia sought to reorganize the Avenues and regain power the street gang lost after a federal indictment last year targeted the Drew Street clique of the gang.

    The indictment details numerous conversations and meetings between incarcerated Mexican Mafia leaders and emissaries of the Avenues where gang business is discussed. According to the indictment, members of the Mexican Mafia and the Avenues also plotted to smuggle drugs and cell phones into California prisons and jails.

    "No matter how many times gangs like the Mexican Mafia and the Avenues seek to reassert control through intimidation, we will do what it takes to combat that intimidation, and ensure that residents need not live their lives in fear," said Acting U.S. Attorney George S. Cardona.

    Today's operation caps a year-long investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department and the HIDTA Task Force (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area), which includes agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, ICE, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - Criminal Investigation, the Ontario and Riverside police departments, and the San Bernardino and Riverside County sheriff's departments. The investigation began last summer and greatly expanded following the August 2008 murder of Deputy Escalante. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office previously charged four Avenues members with that murder.

    "This morning's operation demonstrated not only a continuing commitment to this area, but an ability to foster and maintain long-term relationships with diverse communities and law enforcement agencies," said Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton. "The satisfaction comes when these neighborhoods spring back to life."

    In addition to murder and other violent acts, the indictment alleges the gang engaged in the distribution of crack cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. Avenues leaders control drug distribution by providing "street-level" amounts - typically a few grams of crack cocaine - to numerous gang members and associates and then collecting extortion payments - commonly called "taxes" or "rent" - from the sellers of the drugs, according to the indictment.

    "For too long, these drug dealers have poisoned our streets and put fear into innocent people across our communities," said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Timothy Landrum. "Today's arrests dismantle this drug mob and should significantly impact drug-related crime in the communities where these organizations operated."

    The indictment charges 20 of the defendants with conspiracy to launder money, specifically a portion of the "taxes" collected by the Avenues gang leaders that was paid to imprisoned Mexican Mafia members by depositing funds into their prison bank accounts.

    "In addition to the seizure and forfeiture of their ill-gotten gains, those members of the Avenues gang that dealt with the collection, delivery or deposit of extortionate tax payments, or used those illegal proceeds in furtherance of the Avenues gang's narcotics trafficking, have been charged with money laundering - a charge that carries up to 20 years in prison," said Leslie P. DeMarco, special agent in charge of IRS- Criminal Investigation's Los Angeles Field Office.

    During the course of the investigation, 33 firearms were seized, including nine guns that were seized this morning.

    "ATF will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to rid our neighborhoods of violent gang members," said John D'Angelo, acting special agent in charge of ATF's Los Angeles Field Division. "We are using our expertise to trace and ballistically test each firearm to determine their possible connection to other crimes."

    As a result of the charges contained in the racketeering indictment, each of the 88 defendants faces a sentence of up to life in prison, and each faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, where there is no parole.

    "Today's joint operation has dealt a serious blow to one of the most ruthless and dangerous street gangs operating here in the Los Angeles area," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Los Angeles. "Law enforcement in Los Angeles is united in its resolve to attack and neutralize the gang threat. This enforcement action is another dramatic indication of the headway we're making to take back our streets. The days when gangs like this could hold entire neighborhoods hostage to fear are over. Now it is gang members who should be afraid."

    The defendants arrested during this morning's operation will be making their initial appearances in U.S. District Court beginning this afternoon and continuing into tomorrow.

    In conjunction with the arrests made today, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office today is filing nuisance abatement lawsuits against the owners of three properties where the Avenues are known to operate. The lawsuits are being filed by the City Attorney's Project TOUGH (Taking Out Urban Gang Headquarters) section. The lawsuits will seek a preliminary injunction against the owner of each property and will request extensive physical and managerial improvements, as well as stay-away orders for known gang members, who are also named in the lawsuits.

    Assisting in today's operation were the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; the FBI; the Glendale Police Department; the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections; the Los Angeles County Probation Department; the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

    -- ICE --

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of five integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.

    Last Modified: Wednesday, September 23, 2009
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    http://www.ice.gov/pi/nr/0909/090922losangeles.htm
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