The Avenues is a Latino gang in north-east Los Angeles that covers Highland Park, parts of Cypress Park, Glassell Park and Eagle Rock. They pretty much control the drug trade up there. They have ties to the Mexican Mafia (who doesn't these days?), have been known to engage in racketeering, drug and weapons trafficking, the occasional murder or two.
As of yesterday they got stomped on a little.
Twenty-eight members were rounded up yesterday by DEA and LAPD officers after a 6-month investigation and nailed with an 88-count, 158 page indictment. Some of the highlights:
* Participated in a series of homicides, attempted homicides and homicide conspiracies from 2003 to this year involving street gang rivals and victims who ventured onto the gang's turf. Members operated under the authority of the Mexican Mafia.It's nice to see the Feds getting more involved in gang crime recently.
* Maintained a ready supply of stolen and unregistered machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns and automatic handguns, as well as body armor, used for attacks and intimidation against enemies, police, outsiders and or anyone posing a threat to the gang's illegal activities.
California's prison system is by no means Club Med, but in a lot of cases these guys are going somewhere that already has a support structure in place for them. They have friends and associates waiting. Makes doing time a little easier and gives gangs a chance to hone their recruits. It's like a training facility on the state dime.
If they get brought up on Federal charges, though, these guys don't go to a state facility. They get shipped off to Beaumont, Lewisburg, Terra Haute.
And the idea of going to a prison where you have none of your support system in place is a lot more frightening than sharing a bunk with your cousin. State prison has proved to be not much of a deterrent. Maybe more Federal time will.