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Injunction Imposed Against Pacoima Gang

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Prosecutors won a court order Wednesday against a Pacoima street gang in a bid to curb recent violence that has included the wounding of a 9-year-old girl and the slaying of a 15-year-old boy.

The injunction against the Pacoima Project Boys, which was issued by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Howard J. Schwab, applies to 12 gang members and a half-mile area they are known to frequent in the community south of the 118 Freeway.

The order prevents them from appearing in public with other gang members, intimidating crime witnesses or gang critics, and from possessing guns, illegal drugs or open liquor containers in public.

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The area is bounded on the north and south by Paxton and Pierce streets and on the east and west by Glenoaks Boulevard and San Fernando Road. “This will really leverage [the LAPD’s] ability to keep crime off the street,” Deputy City Atty. Jim McDougal said.

The lawsuit, filed by the city attorney’s office, is the 10th in the city, and the third in the San Fernando Valley, McDougal said. City attorney’s office spokesman Mike Qualls said it came in response to shootings last October at nearby Hubert Humphrey Park.

Though the Pacoima Project Boys hasn’t been tied directly to those shootings, McDougal said the gang, which claims territory just to the southwest, was identified by police as a key source of trouble in the area.

“If we suppress the Project Boys, experts tell us that’s going to prevent more problems than going against the other gangs right now.”

He said the Project Boys are responsible for slayings, drug dealing, robberies and “snatch-and-grab” crimes along the stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard that cuts through their turf. Ten of the 15 defendants originally named in the lawsuit had a total of 18 criminal convictions, Qualls said.

Although some civil rights groups have questioned the use of injunctions, McDougal said they make neighborhoods safer. He cited a 2000 study of Los Angeles County injunctions by a UCLA professor that found that violent crime dropped 5% to 10% in the first year of the injunctions.

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City Atty. Jim Hahn’s gang unit wrote the law under which the Pacoima Project Boys were determined to be a gang--the Street Terrorism Prevention and Enforcement Act, or STEP, which was passed by the Legislature in 1988.

Hahn, who will face Antonio Villaraigosa in a runoff election for mayor June 5, criticized his opponent Tuesday for voting not to renew the law when he was in the Legislature. Villaraigosa said he disagreed with the approach of the law, but was in favor of a multi-agency gang program that currently has a presence in the Pacoima injunction area, as well.

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