Southern California breaking news and trends

LA's gang intervention strategy headed to El Salvador in new collaboration

Mercer 1124

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Guillermo Cespedes is L.A.'s deputy mayor in charge of Gang Reduction and Youth Development.

The Los Angeles Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) has a new $1.5 million grant that'll take the program international.

Gang violence in L.A. has plummeted in the past couple of years. Many attribute that drop to the city’s anti-gang strategy. It focuses on casework with at-risk youth and their families and it uses violence interrupters who dispel rumors and encourage gang members not to retaliate for violence. Now, the city is expanding efforts in the LAPD’s Rampart Division. Deputy Mayor Guillermo Cespedes says a new federal grant will fund 10 people to focus on violence interruption and prevention services in Rampart area – and will provide technical assistance to collaborators in El Salvador.

The Rampart area has a high population of Latinos, particularly people with roots in El Salvador. Cespedes said it was a natural point for a strategy that GRYD has been considering for a while. El Salvador jumped to the forefront for a number of reasons. 

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Why gangs are like both honeybees and lions

Hazard gang

Lisa Newton

A memorial to members of the Big Hazard gang in Los Angeles.

Humans are mysterious animals, even to ourselves. Which is why, it seems, scientists often resort to weird means to understand people's behavior. This trend is especially apparent in the area of crime, where there's currently a sort of scientific, data-based rennaissance underway.

First, there was news that Santa Cruz Police were using an earthquake forecasting algorithm to predict crime waves. Then there's the study that found people who believe in hell are less likely to commit crimes. 

Now, UCLA researchers have come up with a way of plotting street gang territories: a "mathematical model that has been used for more than 80 years to determine the hunting range of animals in the wild." Set in Boyle Heights, this study, published in Criminology, analyzed gang crimes for a three-year period. According to a press release, the equations applied to the data have been in use since the 1930's "to study the relationships between competing groups as diverse as bee colonies, troops of chimpanzees and prides of lions."

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Rocket launcher seized, children and puppies removed in LASD raids

rocket launcher

Photo via Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Rocket launcher, more weapons and suspected methamphetamine seized. Four gang members arrested by LASD OSS in Paramount, Long Beach, Compton.

A rocket launcher, body armor, ammunition, suspected methamphetamine, pit bull puppies and two children were discovered in a series of Southern California raids, say LA County sheriff's officials.

Suspected drugs and weapons were seized, the puppies were taken by animal control, and the children were removed and placed into the custody of child services on Wednesday, officials said in a release.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Arson Explosives detectives determined the AT-4 (Anti-Tank) rocket launcher was inoperable. The rocket launcher, which appears to be a military weapon, was designed to only be fired one time and cannot be reloaded. It lacks a serial number and therefore determining its origins may not be possible.

Operation Safe Streets (OSS) gang investigators assigned to Lakewood Sheriff’s Station developed information during an attempt murder incident which led to officials serving search warrants on eight locations -- one in Compton, one in Long Beach, six in Paramount.

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Long Beach Police say they've busted up one of the area's worst gangs

Baby Insane Crips

Long Beach Police Department

Police arrested Johnney Smith (left) and Sabrille Acklin in a sweep of alleged Baby Insane Crip members.

Long Beach Police say the Baby Insane Crips go back to the 1990's and have been active in a series of shootings, robberies, burglaries, and at least one murder in the past few years. On Wednesday, police announced they'd arrested 16 alleged members of the gang.

The investigation started in November 2009, when Frank Castro was shot and killed on the 1600 block of Santa Fe Ave. in Long Beach's Lower Westside. Sgt. Aaron Eaton says detectives initially had little to go on, just a "limited suspect description." Using ballistics, they were able to link the murder to a series of shootings in the area, eventually leading them to their primary suspect in the case, Johnney Smith, who has now been arrested on murder charges. 

Among the arrestees, Sabrille Acklin also stands out as the alleged leader of the group, who police say ordered his minions to shoot, rob, and steal from his Rialto home.

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Bicycle-riding shooter kills baby boy, injures father on Watts sidewalk

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East 105th and Hickory streets in Watts, where a 1-year-old baby was shot and killed on Monday, June 4, 2012.

Police are searching for a bicycle-riding gunman who shot and killed a 1-year-old baby as he was being held in his father’s arms in Watts on Monday evening.

According to the LAPD, the shooter is believed to be a teenager on a bicycle who rode past the 24-year-old father and his son at about 7:50 p.m., suddenly firing several rounds from a handgun, the L.A. Times reports. The father, standing in front of a house near East 105th and Hickory streets, was struck in the shoulder, the baby in the torso, CBS reports.

The shooter, said to be between 15 and 17 years old, fled on his bike and has not been found. The baby was rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and died at about 11 p.m., according to reports. The father is said to be in stable condition.

Although a motive is not certain, several reports say that police are leaning towards gang rivalry as the cause of the shooting. According to the police, a clash between rival Latino and African-American gangs led to several deadly shootings last year -- and in Monday’s incident the shooter was African American, while the victims were Latino.

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