Friday, June 27, 2008

Task force arrests 28 gang members in Northeast Los Angeles

Hundreds of local police and federal agents raided dozens of addresses in northeast Los Angeles Wednesday and arrested 28 members of the Avenues gang in connection with a federal racketeering indictment. The Drew Street clique of the gang was targeted by the task force.

An 88-count federal racketeering indictment had charged 70 Drew Street gang members and associates with murders, the attempted murders of two LAPD officers, extortion, witness-tampering and robbery. The indictment also charged the defendants with drug violations, including trafficking in crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

The gang's leader, Francisco "Pancho" Real, 26, was known to extort "taxes" from neighborhood businesses, then forwarded part of the proceeds to the Mexican Mafia. In March, Real demanded a $30,000 extortion payment from two neighborhood businesses. When someone resisted, Real threatened to kill him and burn his business, court papers state.

The Avenues operate in parts of Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park and in the Mount Washington area. In February, other members of the Drew Street clique engaged in a shootout with LAPD officers. Fifty-five of the defendants are now in federal or state lockups, while 16 remain at-large.

Taking part in the operation were the Los Angeles and Glendale police departments, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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