AFP, July 7, 2016
Seven members of a notorious Los Angeles street gang with ties to the Mexican Mafia were charged in an indictment unsealed Thursday for their role in attacks targeting African-Americans.
The men, all members of the Big Hazard gang, allegedly took part in the 2014 firebombing of several residences of African-Americans in the city’s Boyle Heights neighborhood in a bid to push blacks out, according to the indictment handed down June 22.
“The defendants used firebombs to drive the victims from their homes because of their race,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “This is a hate crime.
Authorities said the attacks were spurred by the gang’s bid to reclaim control of the neighborhood’s Ramona Gardens housing project, once a bleak crime-infested area where the police dared enter only in groups.
The indictment alleges that Hazard members would spray paint or “tag” gang monikers and symbols on businesses and residences in the neighborhood and would meet to discuss ways to deter blacks from living there.
On May 12, 2014, the gang members, wearing gloves and disguises, went on a firebombing rampage, authorities said.
They split into groups, breaking victims’ windows before hurling the firebombs to maximize damage, according to the charge sheet.