FBI, Police of 10 Cities to Plan Battle Against Gangs That Sell Drugs

FBI, Police of 10 Cities to Plan Battle Against Gangs That Sell Drugs; [Home Edition]
BOB BAKER. Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext). Los Angeles, Calif.: Jun 23, 1988. pg. 1
Author(s): BOB BAKER
Section: Metro; 2; Metro Desk
Publication title: Los Angeles Times . Los Angeles, Calif.: Jun 23, 1988. pg. 1
Source Type: Newspaper
ISSN/ISBN: 04583035
Text Word Count 807
Abstract (Article Summary)

The numerous out-of-town drug rings-usually organized by older gang members or former gang members who use younger gang members and female gang associates to transport and sell the drugs-have been a topic of concern in many cities for the last year. The July 14-15 seminar in Kansas City will be the first organized attempt by affected cities to share problems and strategies.

Gang investigators said the drug transactions typically go through a former gang member who has graduated to mid-level “roller” or “high roller” status. The middle-level dealer acts as a liaison between a bigger cocaine buyer and younger gang members.

Last month, a man identified as a member of another Los Angeles gang was arrested getting off a train in Kansas City with 20 pounds of cocaine. It was the largest known cocaine seizure in the city’s history, according to FBI spokesman [Mike Kortan].
Full Text (807 words)
(Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times 1988all Rights reserved)

The FBI’s Kansas City, Mo., field office and the Kansas City Police Department are inviting law enforcement officials from Los Angeles and eight other cities to a meeting next month on problems caused by hundreds of Los Angeles gang members who are traveling out of town to sell cocaine.

The numerous out-of-town drug rings-usually organized by older gang members or former gang members who use younger gang members and female gang associates to transport and sell the drugs-have been a topic of concern in many cities for the last year. The July 14-15 seminar in Kansas City will be the first organized attempt by affected cities to share problems and strategies.

An example of the criminal justice system’s frustration with the mounting out-of-town cocaine network occurred earlier this week in Seattle: A federal judge offered to reduce the sentence of a Los Angeles gang member who pleaded guilty to selling crack cocaine near a Seattle high school if he will write a letter to his Los Angeles “homeboys” warning them not to sell drugs.

9 Cities Affected

Law enforcement officers from Los Angeles, Sacramento, Denver, Seattle, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Omaha and Anchorage, Alaska, have been invited to the meeting, FBI spokesman Mike Kortan said.

Scores of Crips and Bloods gangs in South Los Angeles have had de facto control over drug sales in their neighborhoods for years by threatening violence to any sellers who are not members of the gang or who do not provide a percentage of the profits.

The decision by many gang-based drug operations to sell cocaine in other cities has been an economic one: because the supply of cocaine is smaller and the competition less severe in other cities, traffickers can earn more.

“More people are coming to buy it there than here,” said one former Los Angeles street gang member who said he sold cocaine in the Northwest but stopped selling drugs after spending nine months in jail for selling cocaine to an undercover officer.

“Here you can make $1,000 selling an ounce. In Seattle you can make $3,000. You cut it down smaller and sell it for more money, smaller pieces. Usually you’re selling pieces for between $20 and $100. You fly up there, break it down and sell it,” the former gang member said.

Gang investigators said the drug transactions typically go through a former gang member who has graduated to mid-level “roller” or “high roller” status. The middle-level dealer acts as a liaison between a bigger cocaine buyer and younger gang members.

Kansas City police and FBI officials said they are organizing the seminar because of persistent trouble with Los Angeles gang members selling cocaine, which began in Kansas City last fall.

“It distresses me that just when we were getting the Jamaican drug gang problem under control, here comes a whole new gang into town with the same propensity for violence,” said one federal law enforcement official in Kansas City.

Last December, four men in their early 20s, all identified by Los Angeles police as members of the Bounty Hunters, a Bloods gang headquartered in the Nickerson Gardens housing project in Watts, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Kansas City after police there made three cocaine buys from a drug house the men allegedly operated.

Last month, a man identified as a member of another Los Angeles gang was arrested getting off a train in Kansas City with 20 pounds of cocaine. It was the largest known cocaine seizure in the city’s history, according to FBI spokesman Kortan.

While Kansas City authorities believe that between 20 and 30 Los Angeles gang members or gang associates have moved to Kansas City to engineer drug sales, “I’m not sure we know yet” how organized” the operation is, Kortan said.

In the Seattle sentencing, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour took pains to express concern about what he called the “happy-go-lucky attitude” of Los Angeles gang members charged with crimes in Seattle.

Coughenour made the offer of a lighter sentence in exchange for a letter of warning by Derrick (Vamp) Hargress, who pleaded guilty to selling crack cocaine near Seattle’s Garfield High School in April and using a firearm in Oklahoma City to further drug trafficking.

As he was led from the courtroom by federal marshals, Hargress said he planned to write the letter.

Hargress, 26, a member of the “Nine-Deuce Hoover Crips,” named after the intersection of 92nd and Hoover streets, faces up to 45 years in prison. Three of his associates also pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges in a case involving the sale of large quantities of cocaine from crack houses in Seattle and Oklahoma City.

Hargress is among 20 Los Angeles gang members who have been charged in federal court in Seattle since a crackdown on gang activity began there earlier this year.

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