Nearly 90 members of a Southern California Latino street gang were arrested today for engaging in “systematic efforts to rid the community of African-Americans with a campaign of shootings and other attacks,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
Five indictments unsealed today charged 147 members and associates of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens street gang with 476 “overt acts” of racketeering that include murder, attempted murder, drug and weapons trafficking, extortion and witness intimidation. The main indictment said that members of the gang “have expressed a desire to rid the city of Hawaiian Gardens of all African-Americans and have engaged in a systematic effort to achieve that result by perpetrating crimes against African-Americans.” The city is reportedly 73% Latino and 4% black.
In a press conference, U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien said it was “the largest gang takedown in history.”
The investigation of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang began in 2005, after a Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy was killed while attempting to arrest a gang member charged with shooting an African-American man.
In 2006, the Intelligence Report, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, reported on Latino gangs’ efforts to carry out “ethnic cleansing” attacks on blacks that were meant to establish purely Latino neighborhoods. The story revealed that gang members were acting of orders from the Mexican Mafia gang. Members of the Avenues, a Latino gang, targeted blacks in Highland Park, an L.A. neighborhood. And last year, Los Angeles police launched a major investigation into another Latino street gang accused of targeting blacks.