Homicides hard to solve in this South Los Angeles ZIP code deemed ‘war zone’

By Sarah Favot, Pasadena Star-News
Posted: 03/28/15, 3:29 PM PDT

war zone gangs south laLaura Sanchez shouldn’t be dead.

And, statistically, the Bloods gang members connected to the woman’s drive-by slaying shouldn’t have been caught and sent to prison.

Her March 18, 2007, murder on the fringes of the 90011 ZIP code was one of hundreds of homicides in an area of South Los Angeles that stretches south from Washington Boulevard to Slauson Avenue and east from South Main Street to Long Beach Boulevard. And although the circumstances of her death are similar to other cases, a federal indictment of one of her killers opened a window on the drug rivalries that dominate life in a housing project near where she was killed.

“It’s a war zone here that hasn’t been declared a war zone,” said Adela Barajas, Sanchez’s sister-in-law and a community activist seeking to improve her neighborhood, officially renamed South Los Angeles that she still refers to as South Central Los Angeles.

Policed largely by officers assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division, officials have sought to rebrand the area following the 1992 Rodney King riots. South Central is no longer the preferred designation, but the name change has done little to quell the decades-long turf rivalries over drug distribution networks that have taken dozens of lives.

An 18-month investigation by the Los Angeles News Group found that nearly half of all homicides that occurred between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2010 across Los Angeles County remain unsolved. The investigation also found that detectives from the Newton Division — known to some as “Shootin’ Newton” — have a higher success rate than their counterparts in 77th and Southwest divisions, which are also located in South Los Angeles.

About 100,000 Angelenos call the 90011 ZIP code area home. Their neighborhoods are dominated by rental housing units, Protestant storefront churches, corner markets, liquor stores, taco stands and fried chicken restaurants.

Read more here: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20150328/homicides-hard-to-solve-in-this-south-los-angeles-zip-code-deemed-war-zone

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