Varrio South Side 38th street [Tres Ocho] is a predominately Hispanic Street gang on the eastside of South Los Angeles. It is among one of the oldest street gangs in South Los Angeles forming between 1915 and 1925.
The gang formed on 38th Street between Santa Fe Avenue (east) and Alameda Street (west) in the rancher farm community of Vernon just west off the banks of the Los Angeles River. When the City of Vernon was founded in 1905 by ranchers James Furlong, Thomas Furlong and John B. Leonis Mexican migrants moved into the area but city officials began to convert the open farm lands into an industrial mega-center which became the home of several steel, aluminum, and glass companies. Studebaker, Farmer John and General Mills setup in Vernon during the 1920s and 1930s.
As Vernon began to transform away from a farm community into an industrial town, the gang’s central location moved just west of Alameda into South Los Angeles in an area where there is no 38th Street.
In 1942, the Los Angeles Police department investigated the murder of José Gallardo Diaz and implicated several 38th Street members. During the early morning hours of August 2, 1942 Diaz’ dead body was found on the side of a road, with injuries consistent of being hit by a car. Investigators believed that Diaz was murdered and within days, Henry Leyvas, 20, and several 38th Street members were arrested for murder in what became known as the Sleepy Lagoon case. Nine members of 38th Street were convicted on 2nd degree murder but in 1944 the Court of Appeals reversed the convictions of the defendants.
Racial paranoia and prejudice had influenced the investigation, the District Attorney’s office and Judge Charles W. Fricke creating an unfair trial. The media coverage was also biased and most of the original defendants were considered innocent of all charges.
The territory of 38th Street is considered larger than average at 0.523 square miles stretching from Central Avenue (west) to Alameda (east) from approximately Martin Luther King Blvd (south) to 41st Street (north). The 38th Street turf also extends north to 24th Street between Compton (west) and Long Beach Avenues (east). The Alameda Swap Meet on Alameda & Vernon Avenue has been a stronghold in their turf for years.
Henry “Hank” Leyva, an original Mexican Mafia member from the late 1950s was the first 38th Street member inducted and became an influential representative. This neighborhood influenced the early history of the Mexican Mafia. Other Mexican Mafia members from 38th Street included Raul “Dopey” Montez and Ramon “Ponchi” Amado.
The large geography of 38th Street has contributed to several subclicks being formed over the years. Their clicks are:
- Tiny Locotes (TLS)
- Morgan Bagos (MBS)
- Night Owls (NLS)
- Pee Wees (PWS)
- Tiny Winos (TWS)
- Pee Wees Locos (PWLS)
- Gatos Locos (GLS), Krazy Kats (KKS), Krazy Cats (KZCT, KZK)
- Dukes (DKS)
- South Central Locos (SCLS)
- Cut Downers (CDS)
- Las Locas (LAS) – female click
- Tiny Diablas (TDS)
- Chicos Locos (CLS)
- Chicos Bagos (CBS)
- Midgets (MGS)
In 2004 the Los Angeles City Attorney’s filed a gang injunction against 38th Street and Judge Jane Johnson granted permanent status to the civil gang injunction in an effort to dismantle and reduce criminal activity of the gang.
In January of 2011, 53 suspected 38th Street members were indicted on narcotics and firearms charges. Varrio 38th Street became the subject of a 130-page grand jury indictment alleging violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act (United States v. Luis “Penguin” Orozco). Over 50 defendants were charged with acting on behalf of the gang and participating in murders, murder plots, attempted murders, narcotics trafficking, robberies, extortion and witness intimidation.
Deceased 38th Street Members
- Oso – died from health complications while in a California prison
- Jorge Alberto “Sharps” Garcia ( – 2010)
- Victor “Flaco” Moreno, 19, (1990 – May 14, 2009) – was shot multiple on the 1700 block of East Vernon Avenue
- Woody – shot and killed by BMS member
- Chubs –
- Pe Pe –
- Walter Hernandez, 23, (1984 – September 10, 2007)
- Midget -
- Suspect -
- Ruben “Smurf” Urzoa, 18, (1992 – February 7, 2010) – killed by All For Crime member
- Efrain “Clown / Payaso” Olmos, 39, (August 16, 1970 – August 24, 2009) – shot and killed in his car by passenger in back seat at 9500 block of Bandera Street in Watts
- Luis “Spike” Zaragoza ( – September 23, 2001) – killed by 38th Street member
- Shaggy ( – 1996)
- Arturo “Lil Crook” Alvarez, 34, ( – July 7, 2009) – shot in South Gate, CA
- Lucio “Bad Boy” Rodarte, 40, (1969 – July 27, 2009) – shot multiple times in the head in an alley near Alondra Boulevard between Lime Avenue and Frailey Avenue
- Mauricio ( – 2003)
- Evil -
- Rafael Martinez ( – June 27, 2000)