Gangs LAPD

Rainy Day Shootout


On Wednesday of this week
I had lunch with the head of the LAPD’s Central Bureau, Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz. He was unusually pressed for time, he said, because one of the divisions under his command, the usually-not-hideously-violence prone Northeast Division, was having an unusual spike in violence—eight homicides since the beginning of the year, the second highest rate in the city.

Diaz was unsure of the reason
. Several of the murders were flukes, he said. For instance, on New Year’s Day two separate guys went to visit two separate loved ones at two separate graves at Forest Lawn. For some reason, one approached the other. Words were exchanged, and one guy pulled a gun and calmly blew the other one’s head off.

Then there was another crazy situation
involving a robbery gone bad.

And, then, he said, the gang known as the Avenues was acting up.

When Chief Diaz left me, he went straight to a strategy meeting to talk about how to put a lid on the Avenues trouble and anything else that might be bubbling up, causing the spike. Better to move now, he said, before things got out of hand.

That was Wednesday.
On Thursday afternoon, I was at USC getting read to begin class when one of my journalism students got a cell phone call from his friend, another J-school kid, who said there’d just been a shootout involving SWAT. No cops were hurt, but there was an OIS—an officer involved shooting.

I had a bad feeling. The student and I turned to the bank of computers that ring the classroom, punched up the local wire service….and found the first bit of news on the story:

The lid Sergio Diaz had hoped to put in place
had not come fast enough. All hell had broken lose in Northeast division.

The LA Times has a full account in this morning’s paper
. Here’s how it begins:

A drive-by attack followed by a wild shootout
between gang members and police shut down dozens of blocks of Northeast Los Angeles for nearly six hours Thursday afternoon, stranding thousands of residents, keeping students locked in their classrooms and leaving two people dead.

Veteran L.A. Police Department officials described the bizarre midday shootings — and the widespread disruption they caused — as highly unusual even in an area known for gang activity. It left the neighborhood littered with shell casings and its residents fearful.

Police blamed the incident on the notorious Avenues gang….

You can find the rest here.


  • Interesting article. I used to go there all the time as I had friends in Atwater (now they live in Arcadia – ah yuppiedom!) but it was always as quiet as Chief Diaz remembered.

    Woody I have troubles with the ordinance but that’s what a Rampart Division scandal will do.

    On another note I see that Chief Bratton said he was pleased with a recent PLAYBOY profile of him by Joe Domanick. My how times change! I doubt if Chief Gates was ever disposed toward Joe’s writings.

  • O/T but I just read the ruminations of Chairman Zell on Journalism over at LA OBSERVED. Well maybe those MBA students were enthralled but I was apalled. So Sam Zell doesn’t believe in foreign news since he gets it all from his Bloomberg terminal! What aa moron!

    Well I guess we won’t have to worry about the LAT anymore.

    Somewhere poor Buffy and her son Otis are making like turbines.

  • The location of shoot-out, (Drew St.) where the under-cover cops went to wait for the Avenues gang members after the drive-by, has been a problem area for many years. Last year city attorney Rocky D. held a big press conference at a house on Drew St., which he called Avenues home-base. Rocky D. was bragging about removing the gangsters from the home, I guess the gangsters just moved to the crappy apartments down the block. This street is just a block or two behind the LAPD station in the area.

    I not sure why Chief Diaz said the area was not recently so violent, the Avenues gang has a very long history of violence in the area. There was the infamous killing of a baby in a car, and the prosecution of Avenues gang members for racial hate crimes and murders. Even the old mother of the Avenues gang leader (Aguierre) was arrested under RICO laws last year, along with her sons who were already in prison.

  • LA Res, Chief Diaz wasn’t suggesting the area wasn’t problematic, but compared to his other divisions—and, of course, compared to south LA—it’s not usually the worst of the problem children, so to speak. The racial stuff with the Avenues has been hideous, and the Avenues was on the LAPD’s so-called ten worst gangs list. But, again, it’s comparative. So such a precipitous spike was unexpected in relationship to the drops in crime elsewhere in the city.

  • Hey – I hate to sound like the airhead in this serious discussion of stuff that actually matters, but what about the Oscars ? Don’t you folks in LA, of all people, have any sense of this county’s priorities ? This is a major opportunity for non-rancorous bloviating about supremely inconsequential crap. Nothing could be more blogalicious. Even at a venue with high SATs like WitnesLA. Surely it’s only fair to give “Witless LA” it’s due for one day of the year. (Actually I’ve only seen two of the nominated pictures, but I’ve got a pretty strong notion they’re the only two one really needs to see.)

  • Okay, okay, you’re absolutely right. Sunday should be a freaking national holiday, as far as I’m concerned. PEOPLE, WHERE ARE YOUR VALUES?????!!!!

    Tonight I’ll put up some kind of Oscar handicapping that in no way relates to reality, but is highly opinionated so that we can all chime in during the run up.

  • “One of LA’s most notorious gangs, it took root in the 1950’s and has wreaked havoc ever since,” is how the L A Times Metro story on the Avenues gang and this shootout starts. They’ve been associated with the Mexican Mafia/Eme from the start, making them especially vicious and feared. They’ve gotten their drugs directly from Mexico, and control the streets, offering “protection” to residents by insisting on “taxes” from merchants and vendors.

    One woman interviewed for the article says the community has welcomed the gang (subdiviced into different “cliques” or “crews” by streets and blocks), and says they could manage things just fine if the “corrupt cops” didn’t interfere. Most families of the gang come from one village in Mexico, and there are now 11 year-olds being inducted into the same gang as their grandparents.

    The vicitm of the shooting was one of 13 children of Maria Leon, whose house was described as the “mother ship” last year and shut down by the City Attorney, but the members just moved on to other locations.

    The only thing I can see Ofc. Diaz might have been referring to is that after that crackdown, there was a temporary lull, but now they’re back with a vengeance. (Maybe as other gangs tried to fill the gaps.) If you want to live in Glassell Park, part of Echo Park and Westlake/McArthur Park, you have to “respect” this gang.

  • WBC,

    I’m not sure why you’re arguing here. (And it’s Deputy Chief Diaz, not Officer Diaz, by the way.) At the risk of sounding boring, we were chatting about the patterns of violence in the city as a whole, and analyzing the reason for the uptic in the violence at Northeast in general, the Avenues specifically. There’s always a reason behind a spike. Sometimes it’s that somebody who’s particularly hardheaded gets out of prison and starts stirring things up. Sometimes there’s a precipitating event that the rest of us only find out about later. (I’m beginning to have info drift in about that possibility, but won’t follow up until Monday.)

    The Times story you reference, and to a large degree misquote, has some good reporting if you read it carefully. They reference Tony Raphael (who gets on my last nerve for a variety of excellent reasons, but who is knowledgeable on EME-related issues), thinks that the “uptick in violence stems from a renewed push by the Avenues to collect taxes from smaller gangs in Cypress Park and Glassell Park.”

    That sounds very possible. There is a new-ish thing that’s has been going on for the past year or so among Mexican American gangs. They’ve been leaning on groups that were formerly tagging crews, but who have gotten into drug sales and now are, for all intents and purposes, gangs, but have not really declared themselves as such. The traditional gangs, like the Avenues, at the…um….urging, of the EME have said to the crews: Look, you’re either in the game or you’re not. And if you’re in the game, you’ve got to play by the rules, which includes paying taxes. When there’s resistance, there’s shooting. Rafael’s suggestion that the recent violence was related to this type of thing is a very credible theory.

    On the other hand, I’ve been hearing rumors of some other things having occurred….

    In any case, the whole picture has yet to emerge. But, it’ll come out, trust me.

    But please don’t lecture me on which gangs are more dangerous than other gangs, and who’s more affiliated with the EME than whom…..etc., etc. It’s a fools errand.

    “They’ve gotten their drugs directly from Mexico…” Oh really? Shocking. And where did you think most of the meth is coming from these days?

  • Ms. Fremon – you better sit down with your girl Molina and ask her what has she done to control or assist in stopping the gang violence in NorthEast LA.
    Then ask her what policy and specific restrictions has she placed on a certain County Department – from going into the 1st district and putting the smack down on the Avenues.
    Finally, ask her why she pays more attentions to the mothers and grandmothers of these gangmembers bogus complaints (who dont vote or pay taxes) – then the hardworking citizens of the area crying for change and help.
    NELA will end up being our next Compton

  • Good clues, Poplock. Thanks. Admittedly, I tend to pay more attention the city side than the county side, just out of habit. Will start poking around, armed with your pointers.

  • “Compared to his (Diaz’s) other divisions — and, of course, compared to South L A — it’s not usually the worst of the problem children, so to speak.” This gives a very different impression from the Times article which I don’t “misquote,” just took out some salient passages which make their point. (Anyone was encouraged to read the whole thing for themselves.) Even L A Res (#4) took away that Chief Diaz underrepresented the recent violent history of the gang, and how you presented it here. Why are you taking it so personally? Comments aren’t about you being a personal authority on everything — you throw out ideas for discussion on various topics, isn’t that so?

    (On education/ LAUSD as well, you have one perspective based on your first-hand experiences and point of view, but turn a deliberately deaf ear to any commenters who share why these discussions are unfortunately irrelevant to the westside/ “wealthy elite” (as they’re often miscategorized), the very people who influence policy and fund-raising in the city — until some personal friends tell you the same thing, and then it apparently comes as total news. Because you tend to tune out anything that comes from those not sharing your own political views and background, as Woody keeps observing, whether you realize it or not. And you take disagreements more personally than they are intended. You may indeed be out there with very valid first-hand experiences, but those who have different ones, as with the school system in L A, or — as in the case of this gang issue — read or hear something different, aren’t expressing their opinions as anything directed personally to YOU, so you shouldn’t take it as such.)

    Guess it’s safer to stick to truly incontrovertible, “blogilicious bloviating” like stipulating that “anyone who thinks Atonement deserves the Oscar is a moronic dirtbag.” Funny, I never heard that as a “technical term” when I was reviewing films abroad, but my education continues apace.

    I nominate reg for resident Film Critic, Obama Campaign Bloviator and, of course, Health and Education Czar and Director of Homeland Security. Then there will be total consensus on everything.

  • Poplock, your concern that anyone involved with the Avenues gang as mother or grandparent, or a neighbor feeling the welcome benefits of their “protection,” while calling the cops “corrupt” interlopers — like one Ms. Hernandez who described herself as a 25-year resident — can manipulate the system to come off as the victims, is very relevant and touched on on this article. Several residents insisted the shooting was unprovoked, while other eyewitnesses saw Leon raise his weapon and seem about to fire. But any of these people who want the cops out of their turf can file a citizens complaint and cry police brutality (and get some lawyer to represent them), and make the cops more wary of providing the very aggressive intervention the “hard-working citizens crying for change and help” want. — Good question, how committed are our officials to shutting down the gangs under these circumstances?

  • Celeste, the article I was referencing is from TODAY’s update, whereas your link is from yeterday/ 2/22, so maybe that’s why you accuse me of “misquoting.” Dep. Chief Diaz in the earlier article does seem to downplay the level and history of the violence as depicted in this update. Here and elsewhere, the history of Avenues is described as going back to the EME link since its origins in the 50’s, so don’t shoot the messenger. (Maybe I can find links to this more specifically later but I have a more pleasant evening ahead to get ready for right now! Something connected to that other shallow thing in town.)

  • Poplock writes
    “Finally, ask her why she pays more attentions to the mothers and grandmothers of these gangmembers bogus complaints (who dont vote or pay taxes) – then the hardworking citizens of the area crying for change and help.”

    I found a link to the arrest of Jovita Aguirre, 75 yrs old, who is one of those “complaing” mothers. Her sons are Mexican Mafia members Alex and Richard Aguirre, from the Avenues gang, who were in prison and still running a drug business with mama’s help.

    Huerta, arrested in the sting, demanded taxes from drug money earned by Latino gang members in the Coachella Valley and paid a cut to his Mexican Mafia sponsor, Richard “Psycho” Aguirre, authorities said. Aguirre is serving a life sentence at Pelican Bay State Prison.

    Aguirre’s mother, Jovita Aguirre, 75, collected Huerta’s payments and passed along orders to him from her son, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Riverside County.

  • WBC, every so often I get prickly, this was one of those times. Probably need to raise my blood sugar.

    In terms of the school stuff, I don’t particularly disagree with you. I generally just don’t comment.

    My personal experience with LAUSD schools, (“persona” meaning in with my kid and neighbors’ kids) is with the Westside and the West Valley My professional experience is with the East and South LA Schools. I was already enraged at the district based on personal experience….and then I began reporting on local education and found in the schools I repeatedly mention on this blog it was far worse than at the so-called “good schools,” which are bad enough.

    People on the Westside send their kids to private schools for a good reason. But when they do, I become annoyed when they don’t see the reformation of the district as an urgent issue. You don’t seem to fall into that catagory.

    Of course I welcome all opinions. That’s why this blog—while run by an admitted liberal (that would be me)—is purposely set up to (hopefully) attract conservatives, liberals, and those in between. I don’t want an echo chamber. Disagreement is one of the elements that makes things interesting around here.

    But admittedly I do get touchy when I think somebody’s trying to set me straight on the “facts’ when it comes to some LA gang or other, or tries to give me a history lesson on same. New info? Always happy to hear it. I’m an expert on nothing. Setting me straight? That’s when my inner adolescent comes out, saddles her high horse, and off we go.

    The thing’s unsaddled now.

  • I remember one of many cases of a gang murder where a young female and her mother adamantly stated with straight faces and did the who “I swear” thing on the witness stand, of seeing the accused gangster sitting on the neighbor’s couch, eating chips and watching TV at the time of the murder.
    Turns out that they were all related to this guy’s homie that was sent to state prison about 5 years prior on an additional unrelated murder.
    WHen it was brought to the attention of the Public Pretender’s Office during the hearing, they yelled foul play – someone…not going to state their name here, advised them to file compliants against the police officers and go cry to the local City and County representives.
    This triggered an investigation of course….just tied up the case another 2 years. Big deal, these are your elected political representives and your tax money being spent on good use……

  • When I posted the prior two comments about the above and the prior comment on the “hard-working citizens crying for change and help,” I had not read the LA Times Article. Now that I did ….i’m not surprise with the idiot lady defending and promoting the gang.
    Now that I read the acticle, I cant believe that all three writers listened to that idiot Tony Raphael.
    This fight between the Avenues and Cypress Park has been going on for decades. The street level shooting and specifically the “drive bys” are in no way connected to tax collecting. This Tony guy needs a new topic to write about. Maybe he should write a book on how a wannabe writer tries to become famous on a book full of crap.

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