LOS ANGELES – Authorities descended on a South Los Angeles housing complex Wednesday and arrested dozens of gang members indicted for murders, drug dealing and attacks on police officers in a racketeering case.
Prosecutors said the Pueblo Bishops Bloods have terrorized the community for generations while entrenched at the Pueblo del Rio housing complex — their namesake.
Thirty members were taken into custody, with additional arrests expected. In all, the federal indictment named 41 defendants.
During the two-year investigation, agents uncovered evidence of at least two murders and various other crimes. Much of the evidence was acquired using wiretaps, and eight of the people arrested were parolees.
The indictment alleged that gang members drove to a car wash in rival gang territory on Aug. 2, 2009, and fatally shot a man in front of his 2-year-old son, according to the indictment.
On Sept. 5, 2006, a member of the gang and another person drove into rival gang territory and shot into a crowd of family and friends of a murder victim who were cleaning his blood from the street, prosecutors said. One person was wounded.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. was hopeful the indictment and arrests would cripple gang operations.
"They have for too long run this housing development and caused residents to live in fear," he said.
The racketeering indictment means defendants could face lengthy terms in federal prisons throughout the country if convicted. That likely would hamper gang operations more than local prosecutions, which often end with gang members able to keep their close associations in state prison.
Some observers were skeptical about the long-term effects of the operation, saying gang crime has remained a stubborn problem even as authorities carried out a slew of large sweeps.
"I never believe these have any long-term impact on the community," said Alex Alonso, a recognized gang consultant who frequently is called as an expert witness in gang cases. "It's the conditions of the community that produce gang members, and this suppression does nothing to address the root causes."
Police Chief Charlie Beck said a new police substation would operate at the housing complex in an attempt to improve community relations and ensure other gang members do not rush to fill the vacuum left after Wednesday's sweep.
The Pueblo Bishops gang was formed in the 1970s and has about 300 active members and associates. The housing project includes more than 600 apartments along with a preschool and elementary school.