The Los Angeles City Attorney's office announced civil actions against members of a San Fernando Valley white supremacist gang Tuesday, saying the filings could result in evictions, officials said.
City Atty. Mike Feuer said he filed nuisance abatement orders against several members and associates of the San Fernando Valley Peckerwoods, a known white supremacist gang that has been accused of involvement in drug and weapons trafficking, identity theft and other crimes.
According to the complaints, the properties in Granada Hills and Canoga Park were known havens for drug and gang activity. Feuer said Los Angeles police officers have recovered stolen vehicles and credit cards, heroin and methamphetamine on multiple occasions at the Granada Hills home of Johnny Reed, a Peckerwoods member who is also accused of having ties to the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang.
Investigators have been monitoring the properties for months, but Feuer said it was especially important to take action against racist criminal organizations at a time when hate crimes are perceived to be rising.
"We're now fighting to prevent white supremacist gangs from infesting our neighborhoods, and they bring with them, of course, this toxic mix of violence and crime and hate," Feuer said.
Each home that was subject to an abatement complaint is located near a high school or middle school, Feuer said. Photos from inside one of the homes showed swastikas and Confederate flags adorning the walls, as well as the Peckerwoods' gang crest.
The separate complaints named Johnny Reed and Erik Cutshaw, a known associate of the white supremacist gang, as well as the property owners at each location. Feuer said his office was able to compel "informal" changes at a third location in Canoga Park by working with the property owner.
A gang member detonated a pipe bomb at the third location earlier this year, according to Feuer, but no one was injured. The bombing was the result of an intra-gang feud, and Feuer would not say whether criminal charges were pending in connection with the explosion.
If the city attorney's office wins the abatement orders, they can compel changes to the conditions at each property. Owners will normally comply and find new tenants as a result of the orders, but the residences could be shut down if property owners don't cooperate; Feuer described that as a "last resort."
Asked if his office had considered filing a gang injunction against the Peckerwoods, a tactic the city has used repeatedly to tamp down the activities of street gangs across Los Angeles, Feuer declined to comment but did not rule out that possibility.
"We have a very robust series of gang injunctions in the city, and we will pursue appropriate remedies at the right time," he said.
While the investigations were focused on the Peckerwoods' gang and drug activity, Feuer said the activities of hate groups in Los Angeles County have become an increasing concern in the wake of a reported surge in bias incidents and crimes.
"We need to be protective of people, especially now," he said. "There is no question that we are living in a nation that is experiencing heightened tension."
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