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Dozens of suspected members and associates of a South Los Angeles gang were behind bars on August 29 and facing drug and conspiracy charges following a series of early morning raids by police and federal agents. The yearlong investigation, dubbed Operation Thumbs Down, targeted the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips, which operates between Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, and Normandie Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, officials said. Officials said 29 murders have taken place within the past five years in the gang's territory.
The investigation's name refers to a hand gesture used by the multi- generational gang in which two thumbs are pointed upward, signifying the ``H'' in Harlem. The Los Angeles City Attorney is pursuing nuisance abatement lawsuits in the case, and federal housing authorities are looking into possible Section 8 violations, which could lead to evictions.
``Among Bloods and Crips gangs, the Rollin' 30s are among the more sophisticated,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Pelham said.
``It's an inter-generational gang. They've got a subset of leaders who are referred to as Original Gangsters, or OGs, who tend to call shots and organize subsets of crews. The investigation turned up that a lot of them were not only organizing crews of guys to do home invasion robberies and burglaries, but were also engaged in illegal firearms trafficking, the laundering of the proceeds from the robberies and the burglaries and a large-scale crack distribution.''
In addition to the homicides, officials have linked about 1,100 robberies and 1,075 assaults to the gang, which is suspected of committing a series of residential or ``knock-knock'' burglaries, referred to by the gang as ``floccin'.'' Indictments were unsealed in Los Angeles federal court, charging 21 defendants with a variety of drug and weapons violations. Additional cases were filed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.
Since the probe began, task force members have arrested 60 alleged Rollin' 30s gang members and associates for state violations, seized 32 firearms and recovered more than 10 kilos of rock cocaine. The Rollin' 30s is composed of three factions, known as ``cliques'' or ``sets,'' identified as the Avenues, Denker Park and 39th Street, officials said. Each set claims different geographical territories within the gang's overall claimed area, and each has its own leaders or ``shotcallers," who direct the gang's activity. Authorities estimate between 700 and 1,000 members of the entire gang.