Of the two L.A. gang members who say they're fighting in Syria for the government of President Bashar al-Assad, one is from a well-known L.A. organized crime syndicate, Armenian Power, and the other says he's representing a San Fernando Valley clique, Grumpy Wynos, that's much more under-the-radar.
We looked into the gang, which the man who identifies himself as Creeper on a viral video refers to as “G.W.,” and found out what we could:
It's a small crew that calls home an area between the LAPD North Hollywood Division and the Foothill Division, near Lankershim Boulevard, two department gang experts told us.
So Creeper's claim to Sun Valley streets is consistent with that.
We asked if it would be unusual to have a non-Latino gang member (as Creeper appears to be) in what was described to us as a Hispanic clique. One gang cop said yes but it's not out of the question. He said he doesn't know of Armenians being involved in the set, but, “I'm not saying they don't recruit” from outside their own ethnicity, the officer said.
Another gang detective told us that the Grumpy Wynos is so small as to be “pretty much nonexistent.”
The set is into drugs, “hanging out, tagging, goofing around,” he said.
While one cop said the Grumpy Wynos is a subdivision of the larger North Hollywood Boyz, the other said that the two were more allied, or “cliqued up.”
Also keep in mind that North Hollywood is an Armenian Power stronghold, so seeing these two guys together on video, purportedly fighting arm-in-arm, might not be that unusual, either.
There seems to be very little info about the Wynos online. The set got a shoutout in David Kennedy's 2011 book, Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America, in which the author writes that Grumpy Wynos is his “favorite ever” gang name.
Creeper and fellow rifle-toting gangster Wino, aka Wino Ayee Peeyakan, claim to be fighting for the government of Assad in what has become a major regional civil war, which has attracted about 100 Americans as well as thousands of fighters from all over the world, one expert told us.
The expert, Seth G. Jones, associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Santa Monica – based RAND Corporation, said it wouldn't be out of the question to see an Armenian gangster in the fight. Some Armenians are supporting Assad.
If the video is real, the two could be in hot water with the U.S. government, however. One photo on the since-deleted Facebook page of Wino shows him side by side with a Hezbollah militant, which could be a no-no by U.S. standards.
Fox 11 News, citing a police source, said the two had been deported from the U.S.
The federal Joint Terrorism Task Force is looking into the pair, an FBI spokeswoman said.