The Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's office today announced that about 150 members and associates of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens street gang have been indicted for racketeering and the shooting of African Americans. The indictments, to be unsealed later today, will reveal details of the gang's alleged crimes, which also include narcotics and firearms violations.
The Associated Press reports that this is the second time in fewer than two years that the feds have targeted a Latino gang for violent crimes aimed against blacks. A split has developed between the Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department on whether the blacks who were attacked were the victims of racial hatred or because they were targets of opportunity. Sheriff Lee Baca claims some Latino gangs have specifically gone after African Americans to keep them out of Latino neighborhoods, while LAPD Chief Bill Bratton denies this.
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The four-year probe of Varrio Hawaiian Gardens was sparked by the 2005 murder of sheriff's Deputy Jerry Ortiz,
who was shot by gang member Jose Orozco, for whom Ortiz was searching
following the wounding of another man. Last year the LASD began
enforcing a court-ordered gang injunction against Varrio Hawaiian Gardens.