If you've ever heard of Witmer Street, you know it's just as notorious for its gang crime as for its proximity to the power-lunch eatery Pacific Dining Car.

There have been numerous shootings on the Westlake street, and immigrant food vendors are routinely shaken down for “taxes” by gangsters. Cosme Gonzalez was selling tamales on the street when he was fatally gunned down in 2009.

Turns out cops and the City Attorney have noticed:

For six months they've been investigating the local gang, called Rockwood, and three apartment buildings associated with it. (There's also a gang called Witmer Street, as if they tiny roadway didn't have enough crime).

The LAPD arrested seven of the gangsters and have handcuffs waiting for 17 others, the City Attorney's office announced today.

It filed “nuisance abatement” lawsuits against three buildings on the street near Third that it says are “controlled by the gang and used as hubs for criminal activity.”

Here's the rundown from the City Attorney:

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311 Witmer Street, a 20-unit apartment building, 325 Witmer Street, a 19-unit apartment building, and 1630 W. Third Street, a 101-unit apartment building. Each of the property owners is charged with narcotics abatement and public nuisance violations based on site-specific evidence of narcotics sales and other nuisance gang activity at the properties.

The suits seek to require the property owners to live on-site and to manage and improve the buildings in a way that would “end the gang's control of the properties,” according to the City Attorney's statement.

The owners could be liable for $25,000 penalties and attorney's and investigative costs. The most harsh words from the C.A. were reserved for the whomever owns 325 Witmer Street:

The apartment building at 325 Witmer Street has been one of the most notorious hangouts for members and associates of the Rockwood gang. Gang members allegedly congregate, sell drugs, store weapons, and use the property as a hub for the commission and facilitation of gang-related criminal and nuisance activity. Since 2003, on at least seven occasions, law enforcement made and/or conducted narcotics-related arrests or undercover narcotics purchases at the property. Since 2002, LAPD has made approximately 18 gang related arrests and recovered four firearms at the property.

630 W. Third Street, the statement says, has been the site of “numerous shootings at the property.”

So now you know what street to avoid on your way home from downtown (if you didn't already).

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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