LOS ANGELES – More than 1,300 FBI agents and LAPD officers this morning arrested 50 people associated with the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips, a street gang that claims control of a South Los Angeles neighborhood and drug sales in an area just west of the “Skid Row” district of Los Angeles. Those taken into custody are among 72 defendants named in a 213-page racketeering indictment that outlines two decades of criminal conduct, including murders, robberies, extortion, witness intimidation and narcotics trafficking.
The investigation into the Broadway Crips was called Operation “Gremlin Riderz,” because authorities focused on a particularly violent “clique” – or subset of the gang – called the Gremlin Riderz. According to the 112-count indictment that was unsealed this morning, the Broadway Crips, which has an estimated 200 members, operated as a criminal enterprise that used violence and intimidation to control an area centering on the intersection of 52nd Street and South Broadway in South Los Angeles. The gang was formed in the 1970s to confront other African-American street gangs, according to the indictment, which alleges that the enterprise has grown into a violent and criminal enterprise that conducts annual meetings and enforces a strict set of rules.
“Criminal street gangs make their livelihood by ruthlessly preying on the innocent people that live in the neighborhoods they claim as territory,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “What makes the conduct of this gang particularly insidious is not only the violent crimes alleged, but also the exploitation of Skid Row drug users who are already living in difficult circumstances.”
The defendants named in the federal indictment face various charges, including conspiracy to engage in racketeering activity in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; violent crimes in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to interfere with commerce by conducting a series of robberies that targeted bank customers; weapons offenses; and various drug trafficking activities involving crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), Ecstasy, marijuana and codeine.
The indictment specifically alleges that members of the gang:
committed four murders, dating back to 1987, that include fatal shootings of unarmed men with no gang affiliations in 2003 and 2012;
threatened a surviving victim of the 2003 shooting, which followed a concert at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip;
conspired to murder a fellow gang member who had provided a statement to law enforcement in relation to the 2012 murder incident in which a total of four people with no gang ties were shot, including a 10-year-old girl on a bicycle;
fired shots at California Highway Patrol Officers who were pursuing gang members two years ago;
engaged in a series of violent, “follow-home” robberies that targeted customers of South Bay banks; and
participated in numerous narcotics sales near schools and playgrounds. In addition to committing crimes in its claimed territory east of the Harbor Freeway, the indictment alleges that the Broadway Crips sell drugs near the Skid Row section of downtown Los Angeles. “This area is desirable to the gang because it is close to Skid Row, where there is a large and vulnerable customer base of drug addicts and mentally ill persons,” according to the indictment.
Out of 72 defendants named in the federal indictment, 48 were arrested this morning. Two more people were arrested on local charges, meaning that a total of 50 were arrested today. Seventeen defendants named in the grand jury indictment were already in custody on unrelated charges. Authorities are continuing to search for eight defendants, including one who faces local charges.
All 72 defendants named in the racketeering indictment face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison if they are convicted. Many of the defendants face potential sentences of life without parole.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
The investigation into the Broadway Crips was conducted by agents and officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department. Considerable assistance was provided during this investigation by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Torrance Police Department, the Buena Park Police Department, the El Segundo Police Department, the San Bernardino Police Department and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
Additionally, several agencies provided substantial assistance during this morning’s takedown, including the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Hawthorne Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, the Inglewood Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Operation Gremlin Riderz is a result of a partnership between the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department under the auspices of the FBI’s Task Force on Violent Crime in the City of Los Angeles. This task force is one of dozens of such partnerships throughout the United States, known as Safe Streets Task Forces, funded for the purpose of assisting local police in identifying and addressing violent crime in America.