Avenues gang has a long, violent history in Los Angeles

by Bettina Boxall (LA Now/LA Times)
September 22, 2009

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The large gang raid this morning in Los Angeles targets a gang with a long history of violence.

The Avenues gang is named for the avenues that cross Figueroa Street in Northeast Los Angeles, where the gang claims Highland Park and parts of Cypress Park, Glassell Park and Eagle Rock as its turf.

The group, which is linked to the Mexican Mafia prison gang, has a history of shootings and killings dating from at least the 1950s.

The Avenues gained national attention in 1995, when several members opened fire on a car that made a wrong turn into a Cypress Park alley, killing 3-year-old Stephanie Kuhen.

Gang members were also accused of the August 2008 killing of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Abel Escalante, 27, who worked at the Men’s Central Jail guarding some of the county’s most dangerous inmates. Escalante was gunned down outside his parents’ Cypress Park home as he prepared to go to work.

In 2006, four members of the gang were convicted of violating federal hate crime laws through a series of chilling assaults and killings aimed at driving African Americans from the predominantly Latino community.

Among the crimes committed by the Avenues from 1995 to 2001, according to trial testimony: shooting a 15-year-old boy riding a bike; kicking open the door of a 21-year-old man’s home and fatally shooting him in the head as he lay on a futon; hitting a jogger in the head with a pistol; drawing outlines of human bodies in chalk on a family’s driveway, along with a racial slur; and knocking a woman off her bike and threatening her husband with a box cutter.

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