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Prosecutors sue owners of South L.A. property, calling it a ‘dangerous hazard’ because of gang crime

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Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer filed a lawsuit against the owners and residents of a South L.A. property that he alleges is a hub for gang crime.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

For nearly a decade, a South Los Angeles duplex has been a hub for gang violence and troublesome parties filled with drugs, city officials say. In the last four months alone, police have responded there multiple times after reports of gunfire.

To get a handle on the violence, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer filed a lawsuit against the mother-and-son duo — Senorina Lara and Miguel Valencia — who own and live in the duplex in the 1300 block of East 43rd Street. Officials are seeking an injunction prohibiting gang activity and a court order to control raucous noise at the property.

“We allege that for too long, a toxic combination of gangs, guns and drugs has made the property a dangerous hazard in this neighborhood,” Feuer said in a statement. “We’ll continue to hold property owners responsible for these unacceptable conditions as we take back our communities.”

The homeowners could not be reached for comment.

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Officials say the violence is carried out by members and associates of two criminal street gangs: 38th Street and Vernon Hood Locos.

Rival gangs know to attack the duplex to go after either group, “putting the safety of the neighborhood at the whim of the gangs’ ‘beefs,’ ” the lawsuit said.

In one August incident, the building was struck by a hail of gunfire in the dead of night. Bullets shattered the front window of a neighboring home. Police picked up 10 spent casings from the sidewalk in front of the duplex.

In November, a man with a gun yelled, “This is 38th Street hood,” then shot at someone walking by, according to the lawsuit.

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The property sits near three public schools, two public parks and several churches, officials said.

Valencia bought the property in 2002 and gave it to his mother this year, the lawsuit said. Before filing, city attorneys said they met with Valencia, whom they identified in court documents as a member of both gangs, and said he agreed to stop the nuisance. They had also sent him two written notices of nuisance activity. But violence continued.

The lawsuit marks the second time in as many months the city attorney’s office has used legal action to crack down on gang activity. Last month, prosecutors sued the owners and managers of Chesapeake Apartments, a 425-unit complex on the northern edge of Baldwin Village.

The property, officials said, is a longtime stronghold for a street gang called the Black P-Stones and has been plagued by violent crime for decades. Feuer alleged in the lawsuit that their mismanagement has resulted in a “serious threat” to public safety and created an environment in which anyone who comes near the property is at risk of being a crime victim.

Since July 2013, city officials said, Feuer has filed nearly 100 nuisance abatement lawsuits and secured 96 injunctions related to specific properties with documented gang or drug activity.

alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @AleneTchek


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