Thirteen members of a violent South LA street gang were arrested in connection with a federal drug investigation that has already netted more than 100 arrests in the last year.
Thursday's raids were the third phase of “Operation Thumbs Down," a multi-year investigation targeting high-level members of the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips.
"(It's) one of the most oldest and violent gangs in LA and it ranks among LAPD's top-targeted gangs," said Robert Clark, assistant special agent in charge from the FBI.
Clark said it's also one of the largest gangs, with anywhere from 700 to 1,000 members. They control a half-square-mile of South LA, where, the FBI said, residents want a better quality of life.
"They want their children to be able to walk to playgrounds and walk safely to school, that they can stand at bus stops safely, they can stand in front of their homes and speak to neighbors safely," Clark said.
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That fear is justified. In the past 5 years, the Rollin' 30's territory has seen 29 murders, more than 1100 robberies and more than 1,000 aggravated assaults.
About 500 law enforcement officers served dozens of search warrants in the early-morning raids. Clark said more than 140 members of the longstanding gang face federal or local charges in connection with crack-cocaine and firearms violations.
"They aren't just selling a couple of rocks on street corners, it's a vast network," said Commander William Scott of LAPD's South Bureau.
In addition to the arrests, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that lawsuits have been filed against the owners of a strip mall and an unlicensed barber shop allegedly controlled by the gang.
In a five-year period, police said there have been 29 homicides in the gang's turf. Police also recorded 1,100 robberies and 1,075 assaults in the same period.
Searches were expected to continue through the afternoon, police said.
Some 35 members of the gang were arrested during the second phase of the investigation in August 2013.