Wednesday, 14 January 2009

$5 million civil judgment against the 5th Hill Gang and 11 named members

"The 5th & Hill Gang has long been heavily involved in the sale of heroin in downtown Los Angeles, and we know they have profited from these illegal activities," said City Attorney Delgadillo, who several weeks ago filed a similar action against the 18th Street gang. "We are going to work aggressively with our Federal, State, and local partners to locate and collect their assets - and every penny we strip away from these criminals will be returned to the neighborhoods they have tormented."$5 million civil judgment against the 5th & Hill Gang and 11 named members as part of a permanent injunction restricting the criminal activity of the gang and its narcotics associates in the historic core of the City´s downtown area. This civil judgment is the first ever obtained against a criminal street gang.Approved by L.A. Superior Court, the permanent gang injunction severely restricts the ability of the gang to commit criminal and nuisance activity, including the sale of heroin and other narcotics within the established downtown Safety Zone as defined within the boundaries of 2nd Street to the north, San Pedro Street to the east, 9th Street to the south and Olive Street to the west. At the core of the Safety Zone is the northeast corner of Pershing Square, at which 5th and Hill Streets converge.
Terms of the permanent injunction include many of the standard gang injunction provisions, including limiting the gang´s ability to associate in public with other members, intimidate witnesses, to sell or possess drugs, or to possess weapons or graffiti tools. A unique provision of the injunction makes the gang injunction effective, not only against gang members, but also against the gang´s "Heroin Sales Associates" - defined as anyone arrested twice for possession for sale, or sales where the alleged controlled substance was heroin, and the arrest occurred within the established Safety Zone. This new provision was sought by city prosecutors because 5th & Hill Gang members attempt to insulate themselves from criminal liability by using non-gang members to move their product on the street."The Fifth and Hill Gang injunction and now the first ever civil judgment of its type, are evidence of a healthy prevention-focused partnership between the community and different components of the criminal justice system," said LAPD Chief William Bratton. "We will use these tools judiciously to improve safety and to help dismantle violent gangs." In addition to granting a permanent gang injunction, the Court also awarded $4,200,000 in civil damages against the 5th and Hill gang as well as gang members Jesus Barcenas, Everado Bautista, Adolfo Catala, Alejandro Delatorre, Jesus Gonzalez, Carlos Hernandez, Juan Bautista Osorio, Carlos Quiroz, Marco Rivera, Gustavo Roman, Jr., and Cesar Tovar. The Court also awarded an additional $857,500 in civil penalties against the gang and the named members for their violations of the State´s Business and Professions Code Section 17200.
"Because of our innovative and creative solutions to the gang the City Attorney´s new civil damages actions - we´re making Los Angeles one of the safest big cities in America," said L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti. "I look forward to working with City Attorney Delgadillo to ensure that any money he recovers is distributed to the communities damaged by these gangs, as quickly as possible." "I want to congratulate the City Attorney for thinking outside of the box to bring down this opportunistic street gang," said Councilmember José Huizar. "And I´m happy to hear that the gang´s drug profits made off of the misery of others is going to be returned to the communities they originated in to do some real good."
The injunction - prosecuted by Gang Division Deputy Jim McDougal - includes more than 400 pages of declarations from law enforcement officials regarding the long-standing criminal activity of the 5th & Hill Gang located within the historic core of downtown Los Angeles, as well as declarations submitted on behalf of the local Business Improvement Districts regarding the economic harm caused by the 5th & Hill Gang.

The 5th & Hill Gang is known to have a monopoly on heroin sales in downtown Los Angeles. A vast majority of crimes committed within the Safety Zone, including graffiti and assaults, are related to heroin sales business conducted by the gang.
The City Attorney sought a preliminary gang injunction against the 5th & Hill Gang in November 2007, and the preliminary injunction was granted in February 2008. As part of the original filing, City Attorney Delgadillo´s prosecutors included an additional Cause of Action pursuant to penal code Section 186.22 a(c) seeking damages using the 2007 Amendments to the STEP Act signed into law by the Governor. That amendment expanded existing law to provide prosecuting City Attorneys and District Attorneys with the authority to seek damages against gang members under injunction, and to collect from them assets acquired from their criminal activity. "This is exactly the kind of anti-gang impact that we hoped to see with the passage of SB 271 and SB 1126," Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said."By giving prosecutors more tools to fight gang activity at the local level, we are protecting our communities at the same time we're able to strengthen our statewide anti-gang efforts."The December 2008 filing against members of the 18th Street gang was a stand-alone damages action filed pursuant to the 2008 Amendments to penal code Section 186.22 a(c), and was the first to make use of the passage of SB1126 which authorized prosecutors to collect damages from any assets the named gang members have to satisfy the judgment, whether or not a direct link is established between the criminal conduct and the asset. Since taking office in July 2001, City Attorney Delgadillo has increased the number of gang injunctions from eight to 40, covering more than 65 gangs and more than 61 square miles of claimed gang territory in Los Angeles. In addition, LAPD reports cite a 33 percent decline in gang membership since 2001, and a 25 percent reduction in gang crime since 2002.


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