Pubdate: Wed, 28 Feb 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Author: Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The Highland Park crew, which allegedly sells meth, is the 50th 
organization in the city to come under permanent restrictions

Reaching a grim milestone, city prosecutors announced Tuesday that 
they have obtained a permanent court injunction against their 50th 
Los Angeles street gang, this time the 300-member Highland Park gang, 
which allegedly uses violence to protect a major drug sales operation 
specializing in methamphetamine.

By converting the injunction from what had been a preliminary order, 
a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge gave the city attorney 
long-term authority to put members of the gang in jail if they are 
found to be congregating, loitering, trespassing, intimidating 
residents, possessing weapons or possessing tools for graffiti.

The injunction also establishes a 10 p.m. curfew for gang members and 
prohibits them from entering school safety zones, extending 1,000 
feet in all directions from campuses in portions of Highland Park and 
Eagle Rock.

"Highland Park is considered one of the most organized, most 
profitable and most dangerous gangs in Los Angeles," said Bruce 
Riordan, who heads the gang prosecution program for the Los Angeles 
city attorney's office.

City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said the injunction, in addition to court 
orders won in the last two months against the Dogtown, Clover, 
Eastlake and Lincoln Heights gangs, are part of a larger campaign to 
clamp down on gang violence and activity in a section of northeast 
Los Angeles where Delgadillo happens to have grown up.

Delgadillo said he plans additional injunctions in the coming months 
as part of a crackdown to address the 14% increase in gang violence 
last year in L.A.

The three injunctions secured since December cover about 1,000 gang 
members. In all, the city has 33 court injunctions against 50 gangs 
with about 11,000 members in an area of more than 61 square miles of 
claimed gang territory.

No other city in the country has used injunctions as widely against 
gangs, cementing L.A.'s reputation as the gang capital of the United 
States, said T. Rodgers, head of Sidewalk University, an L.A.-based 
gang intervention program.

The use of injunctions to limit the activity of named gang members is 
controversial. Groups including Rodgers' and the American Civil 
Liberties Union of Southern California argue that such court 
restrictions can be overly broad and violate the freedom of 
association rights of people who have not been convicted of crimes.

"It's strange that they are celebrating this landmark when there is 
so much we don't know about the effectiveness of gang injunctions and 
so many problems that have to be addressed," said Peter Bibring, an 
attorney for the ACLU.

He said problems include a lack of due process for individuals who 
wish to challenge their inclusion in an injunction.

The city attorney said injunctions have played a key role in the 33% 
decline in gang membership in the city in the last five years. Los 
Angeles Police Department officials estimate there are 39,000 gang 
members in about 720 gangs in the city.

"Gang injunctions are a highly effective tool when it comes to 
tamping down gang crime," Delgadillo said. "But they're no silver bullet.

"Suppression needs to be joined by prevention and eradication if we 
are to succeed in the battle against criminal street gangs."

The Dogtown injunction, won in December, has already begun producing 
results, officials said.

"What LAPD tells us is the Dogtown gang used to reign over the 
William Mead housing project," Delgadillo said. "Crime is down 
dramatically and the LAPD tells us Dogtown is no longer in the 
injunction area."

At the same time, Delgadillo said Tuesday, six months after launching 
the city's First Chance intervention program, which allows gang 
members named in injunctions to be excluded once they enter job 
training and education programs, 21 gang members have signed up.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman