Police patrolling gang-infested neighborhoods awash in drugs, bullets and blood are preparing to saturate the streets of the nation's second-largest city in a declared war on violence.
"We're putting together a task force to suppress gang activity in the city wherever it's at," officer Bill Frio, a department spokesman, said Thursday. "We are not going to broadcast how and when we're going to do it.""We're out there to let these gang-bangers know that we're here, we're not going to go away, and this city belongs to the good people," said Detective Tony Celli, using the street slang for gang member.
In recent weeks police have arrested hundreds of gang members, most plying a burgeoning drug trade and enforcing the perimeters of their "turf" with drive-by shootings.
Gangs were blamed for 387 killings in Los Angeles County in 1987 and as many as 85 so far this year. Violence has continued despite recent enforcement sweeps, with five people wounded Wednesday in three drive-by shootings, a common style of attack in gang wars.
The anticipated roundup, involving as many to 1,000 police officers, would be the biggest in a series of mass patrols in gang-ridden areas south of downtown.