Feds: Latino Gang Targeted Blacks

AP, May 21, 2009

A Latino street gang waged a racist campaign to eliminate the city’s black residents through attempted murders and other crimes, according to federal racketeering indictments unsealed Thursday.

Five indictments charged a total of 147 members and associates of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang, and federal and local agencies arrested 63 of them by early Thursday, U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said at a news conference.

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The indictments detail attempted murder, kidnapping, firearms, narcotics and other charges related to attacks by the gang, which is predominantly Latino and mainly operates in Hawaiian Gardens, a city of about 15,000 in southeastern Los Angeles County.

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Shots fired into home

The indictment alleges a string of attacks on black residents, including a shooting into a home with eight people inside. The indictment does not say if anyone was hit.

In another instance, two gang members allegedly chased a black man, yelled a racist epithet at him and then beat him with a garden rake. The same man was later repeatedly stabbed by two gang members, according to the indictment, which charged them with his attempted murder.

According to 2000 census data, the latest available, Hawaiian Gardens was roughly 73 percent Hispanic and 4 percent black.

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The indictments mark at least the second time in less than two years that federal authorities have accused Latino gang members of attacking black residents because of their race. Local officials have tried to downplay racial tensions.


Federal authorities today unveiled a sweeping racketeering indictment accusing a southern Los Angeles County street gang of a litany of crimes, including killing a sheriff’s deputy and committing hate crimes against African Americans in order to rid them from their turf.

The indictment, along with several related ones, charges more than 100 members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang with murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and witness intimidation. U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien, speaking at a news conference this morning, touted it as the “largest gang takedown in United States history.”

The gang investigation began in 2005 after sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz was fatally shot while conducting an interview in Hawaiian Gardens, a gritty, largely Latino city east of the 605 Freeway and north of Long Beach.

The shooter was a Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang member with devils’ horns tattooed on his forehead. He has since been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Authorities said the gang was formed in the 1950s or early ’60s and today has more than 1,000 members spanning several generations, many of them with connection to the Mexican Mafia.

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The indictment details several alleged attacks on African Americans, most of them shootings. In one incident, a gang member is accused of using a racial epithet against an African American, yelling at him to “get out of town” and then attacking him with a garden rake. {snip}

The gang members, with monikers such as “Slasher, Shady, Diablo and Menace,” boasted about being racist, referring to themselves as “The Hate Gang,” according to 193-page indictment that outlines the racketeering case. “VHG gang members 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 them, the document states.

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