Gang dragnet sweeps up 72 of LA's hard-core Crips


Los Angeles

For more than two decades, a street gang known as the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips has terrorised the territory it calls its own in South Central Los Angeles, while profiting from the sale of drugs to vulnerable, homeless addicts in the city’s blighted Skid Row district. But this week, 50 suspected members – almost one third of the entire gang – found themselves behind bars following a major bust by the FBI and LAPD.

The arrests came early on Tuesday, as 1,300 law enforcement officers swooped on suspects’ homes and properties, making arrests and seizing weapons and drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. The Five Deuce gang originated in the neighbourhood around the corner of Broadway and 52nd Street, south of Downtown, but its drug trafficking activities are thought to stretch as far afield as Louisiana and Minnesota.

The police sweep was named Operation “Gremlin Riderz”, after the ultra-violent clique that comprises the majority of the suspects, whose nicknames reportedly include “Baby Too Cool” and “Tiny C-Bone”. There are 72 defendants named in a federal racketeering indictment detailing the gang’s alleged involvement in more than 100 crimes including murder, robbery and extortion stretching back to the 1980s. All those named face at least 10 years in prison if they are convicted.

Some of the weapons seized Some of the weapons seized The Five Deuce are accused of four murders since 1987, including the 2012 shooting of an unarmed man with no gang affiliations. A 10-year-old girl was shot in the same incident. The gang is also believed to have targeted bank customers, following them home from their withdrawals to rob them at gunpoint. According to the indictment, they opened accounts and rented properties and vehicles using the names of female friends and relatives, because they drew less attention.

The majority of LA street gangs are Latino, but no Latino gang has achieved the worldwide notoriety of the overwhelmingly African-American Crips and their bitter rivals, the Bloods. The Crips were founded in 1969, while the Bloods formed from a breakaway faction shortly thereafter. When the crack cocaine epidemic spread to LA in the early 1980s, the two fought viciously for control of the market. They became known globally due to their pop cultural depiction in movies and rap lyrics, famously identifying themselves by wearing gang colours: blue for Crips, red for Bloods.

Today, the city’s murder rate is a quarter of what it was in 1980. Violent crime has plummeted thanks to economic improvements, smart policing and community gang intervention programmes. The Crips and the Bloods, meanwhile, have devolved into a broad and varied selection of small, barely connected street gangs. “Those two monolithic gangs and their rivalry are long over,” said Jorja Leap, a gangs expert and professor at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Other members of the gang caught Other members of the gang caught “There is no single structure, no president of the corporation. The original gangsters often shake their heads and tell me the youngsters have no respect for the past, they’re operating independently, they don’t observe the rules. These groups may still carry the Crips name, but they’re in no way associated with the gang as it was originally constituted.”

The Five Deuce originally formed as one of multiple Crips sub-groups during the 1970s, but today the gang’s continued brutality marks it out as part of the minority. “There’s only a small percentage of black gangs that are still just brutally violent, and [the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips] is one of them,” Professor Leap said. “They are exceptionally and consistently violent. They’re also unusually disciplined compared to most black gangs in LA.”

Following the arrests this week, US Attorney André Birotte said the most “insidious” aspect of the gang’s activities was its “exploitation of Skid Row drug users who are already living in difficult circumstances.” Though much of Downtown LA is fast becoming gentrified, the few square blocks known as Skid Row are still marred to a shocking extent by homelessness, drug abuse and crime. To those who never venture into the neighbourhood, this week’s news served as a reminder that some of the old Los Angeles remains.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower