Gangsters Controlled Drug Turf Near DTLA Hipster Neighborhood, Feds Say
Courtesy U.S. Department of Justice
A gang that claims drug-selling territory just steps away from some of downtown L.A.'s most happening bars and lofts was put against the ropes by a huge federal crackdown this week, authorities said.
The Five Deuce Broadway Gangsta Crips targeted "addicts and the mentally ill" with crack cocaine sales, sometimes soliciting folks seeking drug treatment and counseling, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack E. Jenkins told L.A. Weekly.
The gang had its hands on an array of drugs, including, according to feds ...
... crack, powdered cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP, ecstasy, marijuana and codeine syrup, a key ingredient in sizzurp. Jenkins told us the Broadway Gangsta Crips usually reserved the codeine syrup for other members.
He said the gang did not sell to nearby hipsters in gentrifying areas bordering its downtown territory, preferring instead to prey on the homeless.
"They worked late nights and early mornings," he said. "It was past their bedtime to a certain extent."
Fifty members of the gang's Gremlin Riderz clique were arrested yesterday by a whopping 1,300 Los Angeles Police Department officers and FBI agents, federal authorities said in a statement.
Seventy-two members of the 200-strong gang had been indicted for alleged murder, extortion, drug trafficking and witness intimidation, prosecutors said.
The epicenter of the gang's turf is 52nd Street and Broadway in South L.A., but the organization maintained lucrative drug territory in the heart of Skid Row, with boundaries of 5th and 7th streets on the north and south and Central Avenue and Crocker Street on the east and west, according to the indictment.
The territory rubs up against the Arts District and its red-hot real estate. The indictment alleges that the Broadway Crips did not allow members of other gangs to hang out in the area and that they let residents know through graffiti that the area was "controlled and inhabited" by its soldiers.
While Skid Row was the heart-and-soul of the gang's retail operations, the Broadway Crips' trafficking reached Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Minnesota and Louisiana, prosecutors alleged.
Among the gang's many alleged crimes was a murder following a Ludacris concert at the West Hollywood House of Blues on March 10, 2003, according to prosecutors.
Gang members in a Range Rover and in other cars blocked the path of a vehicle on Sunset Boulevard, and the driver and a passenger were shot by Broadway Crips members, authorities alleged. The driver, a Latino man with a rap sheet for drugs but with no gang affiliation, was killed, Jenkins told us.
U.S. Department of Justice
He said the attack followed some kind of "verbal altercation." "Shooters on both sides [of the victim] were yelling 'Five Deuce Broadway Gangsta Crips,'" he said.
Specific counts against those indicted include, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A., ...
... conspiracy to engage in racketeering activity in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; violent crimes in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to interfere with commerce by conducting a series of robberies that targeted bank customers; weapons offenses; and various drug trafficking activities involving crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), Ecstasy, marijuana and codeine.
Four murders are included in the indictment, which also alleges that members shot at California Highway Patrol officers, tried to intimidate cops installing surveillance video cameras on their turf, and committed "follow-home robberies" of South Bay bank customers.
Fifty of 72 targeted members were in custody, feds said.
The U.S. Attorney in L.A., André Birotte Jr., said this:
What makes the conduct of this gang particularly insidious is not only the violent crimes alleged, but also the exploitation of Skid Row drug users who are already living in difficult circumstances.
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