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LA police take on Avenues street gang

Associated Press / September 23, 2009

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LOS ANGELES - A notorious street gang accused of terrorizing a neighborhood for years, killing a sheriff’s deputy, and murdering residents, was the target of a coordinated assault by hundreds of law enforcement officials yesterday.

About 1,100 local police working with nearly 300 federal agents carried out a string of predawn raids seeking key members of the Avenues street gang, a longstanding group that claims as its territory a swath of northeast Los Angeles.

A federal indictment detailing criminal activity spanning more than a decade named 88 suspects. Forty-six were arrested, 33 were already in custody, and nine remained at large, authorities said.

The indictment reads like a laundry list of gang crime: the murder of rivals, prolific drug dealing, weapons violations, and money laundering.

Prosecutors say the Avenues preyed on community members, with two named suspects accused of attacking a resident in a parking lot then shooting him to death when he tried to call for help.

Another woman was pistol-whipped then shot at but survived to identify an assailant by the fedora-wearing skull he had tattooed on his chest, Assistant US Attorney Ariel Neuman said.

The gang is also accused of carrying out acts of violence against police officers, culminating in two attacks that rocked the law enforcement community last year.

The first of these, in February 2008, saw Avenues gang members opening fire with handguns and an AK-47 on Los Angeles police officers.

Police shot back, killing 20-year-old Daniel Leon and injuring another man.