Pubdate: Tue, 30 Mar 1999
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times.
Contact:  (213) 237-4712
Author: Patrick McGreevy, Evelyn Larrubia, Times Staff Writer


Targeting what he considers the hub of the rock cocaine trade in the
San Fernando Valley, City Atty. James Hahn revealed Monday that he has
filed a court injunction against the Langdon Street gang in North
Hills, his eighth such lawsuit.

"This is the center of the crack cocaine trade in the San Fernando
Valley and we want to strike at the heart of it and put this gang out
of business," Hahn said in an interview.

He said the Los Angeles Police Department last year made 4,000
narcotics arrests in the Sepulveda corridor area dominated by the
gang--one-third of all narcotics arrests made in the San Fernando Valley.

The suit seeks to bar the gang and 31 alleged members with street
names such as "Lil Termite," "Fester," "Triste" and "Lil Monster" from
associating in public, hanging out on private property, flagging down
cars, using walkie-talkies and other activities. It also seeks to
impose a 9 p.m. curfew on the gang, which the city attorney alleges
has ties to the Mexican Mafia.

The gang, which authorities say has been around for about 15 years,
has been a serious problem in the North Hills neighborhood. Law
enforcement officials said the injunction was prompted by increasing
violence by the gang, attributed in part to a street war with another
gang, the Bryant Street gang. This has resulted in a number of
shootings by and of members of the gang, authorities said.

In the latest shooting six months ago, a Bryant Street gang member and
Langdon Street gang members got into a fight at a public bus stop
outside James Monroe High School as several other students stood
nearby. One innocent bystander was shot in the foot, LAPD Capt. Joseph
Curreri said.

He said aggravated assaults and robberies have also increased

"They rule by intimidation in that area," Curreri said. "They kind of
feel that they're above the law and rule that area."

Civil libertarians openly criticize the lawsuits, saying that they are
ineffective and needlessly trample the defendants' 1st Amendment rights.

"First of all, there are already laws on the books to arrest people
for all the crimes enumerated" in the lawsuit, said Elizabeth
Schroeder, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union of
Southern California. "We have a strong concern that [the injunctions]
violate the 1st Amendment right of association."

The injunction was quietly filed on Friday. Hahn said he did not
release details until Monday to allow officers to find gang members
and serve them with copies of the lawsuit. A little more than half had
been served by Monday afternoon, according to police.

A hearing has been set for next month before a judge, who will decide
whether to grant the injunction. To win court approval, the city must
prove that "traditional law enforcement" has not worked to resolve a
gang problem.

All seven previous nuisance injunctions filed by the city attorney's
office have been granted by the courts.

Schroeder, of the ACLU, said a study conducted by the organization a
few years ago found that injunctions do not stop crime; they simply
shift it to the surrounding neighborhoods. City officials disagree,
citing an injunction against some members of the 18th Street gang in
the Pico-Union district resulted in a 50% drop in gang-related crime.

"The initial reports that we get back for areas where injunctions are
in place indicate that crime is dropping faster than in other parts of
the city," Hahn said.

The lawsuit against the Langdon Street gang focuses on neighborhoods
on both sides of the San Diego Freeway, as far north as Tupper Street
in one area and as far south as Roscoe Boulevard in another.

In 1997, a series of stories in The Times chronicled life in one of
the neighborhoods controlled by the Langdon Street gang, on Orion
Avenue. Two journalists lived in the neighborhood for several months
and concluded that law-abiding residents were essentially prisoners in
their homes, afraid to venture out or let their children play outside
for fear of the street gang, which ran a successful open-air drug market.

Hahn said the drug trade in the area has continued despite numerous
arrests of gang members and crackdowns, including one recently carried
out by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

One of the gang members made $70,000 selling drugs last year,
according to Hahn's staff.

The lawsuit filed Friday is the second in the Valley. An injunction
for Blythe Street was approved previously, and is credited with
helping to clean up and stabilize one of the Valley's worst

The city attorney plans to announce the lawsuit formally today at a
news conference on Orion Avenue, in the heart of the turf claimed by
the gang.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek Rea