When two undercover L.A. cops were shot in the face over the weekend they were working on one of L.A.'s more notorious crack streets, controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha gang and only a few blocks from its 18th Street archenemies.

The area in Koreatown near Westlake and Pico-Union had been quiet, and it seemed the city's — and arguably the nation's — two largest gangs were in the midst of a truce when someone opened fire on rivals with a shotgun and then turned the weapon on the cops when they intervened by squeezing their service revolvers.

It all happened …

… Saturday about 9:15 p.m. at Leeward and Magnolia avenues, police said.

One officer was hit in the eye by the gangster's blast, and it wasn't clear if his eyesight might be permanently affected, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Cathy Reyes. The other cop was treated at a hospital and released.

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Two juveniles were caught at the scene after more than 100 officers assisted in a search and a tactical alert was called for the entire city. (A tac alert allows commanders to keep officers on-duty past their quitting time). Reyes:

They're gang members, so they were out there capering. They were shooting at what they believed were rival gang members.

No one else was wounded, but two other suspects, possibly in a red Mitsubishi or Nissan, apparently got away.

We documented some of the crime issues on Leeward Avenue in this 2009 story. The street appeared to be controlled by M.S. and was a well-known destination for drugs.

Crime there, however, had been fairly quiet for years even though Leeward is only a few blocks from 18th Street turf at Hoover Street and Pico Boulevard and west at MacArthur Park.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

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