More than 20 gang members and associates of the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips are facing federal charges on allegations of drug distribution, officials said Thursday.
Hundreds of FBI and L.A. Police Department officers were part of a coordinated effort Thursday morning to serve arrest warrants to 23 alleged members of the street gang. Four of those named in the warrants were already in custody on unrelated charges and six are still being sought by law enforcement.
The suspects are accused in federal indictments for, among other violations, possession of cocaine base with the intent to distribute, conspiracy and gun possession charges, federal officials said.
The timing of Thursday's arrests coincided with nuisance abatement lawsuits filed by the city attorney's office against owners of three properties allegedly used by the Rollin' 30s and ally Rollin' 40s for criminal activity.
The Rollin' 30s are known by the LAPD's Southwest division as "one of the most active gangs selling narcotics" in the area, dealing primarily in cocaine, according to the court documents.
The lawsuits filed in L.A. County Superior Court allege that the properties, which include a strip mall and an unlicensed barber shop, are used for narcotics and firearms sales.
"The lawsuits we filed today target chronic properties we allege are controlled by gangs, and are bases for drug and gun sales in close proximity to churches and schools," City Atty. Mike Feuer said in a statement.
In the lawsuit, the city attorney asks that the property owners -- who do not appear to have ties with the gangs -- be ordered to improve lighting and fencing, as well as screen guest and tenants. It also seeks stay-away orders against gang members.
The properties are in the 4000 block of Western Avenue, the 2000 block of Jefferson Avenue, and the 1000 block of West 38th Place.
Many of the suspects face minimum prison terms of five years and maximum penalties of life in federal prison, officials said.
The Rollin' 30s are a multi-generational violent gang operating primarily in South Los Angeles, with three factions, known as "cliques" or "sets." The factions -- the Avenues, Denker Park and 39th Street -- each have assigned "shot-callers" to direct the gang's criminal activity, officials said.
Law enforcement estimates there are between 700 and 1000 Rollin' 30s gang members.
Thursday's efforts were part of Operation Thumbs Down, a joint investigation between federal and local officials that began in 2011 aimed at dismantling the Rollin' 30s.
The name of the operation references a hand gesture used by the gang in which members point two thumbs upward to represent the H in Harlem.
Since the operation began, officials said, nearly 100 members or associates have been charged with a variety of narcotics or weapons violations.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times