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Raids targeting Los Angeles drug gang lead to 22 arrests

By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES — A two-year investigation of a violent South Los Angeles street gang led to 22 arrests in a series of raids over five hours Thursday, with a neighborhood evacuated until tear gas drove a suspect out of a home.

Those arrested were reputed members and associates of the Neighborhood Crips, authorities said.

"They are a very violent street gang," said Susan Raichel of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "They have been involved in numerous murders, numerous drive-by shootings."

The gang members dealt in crack cocaine and counterfeit money, ATF Special Agent in Charge John A. Torres said at a news conference, where handguns, shotguns, ammunition and a plastic bag of what appeared to be marijuana were stacked on a table.

"They preyed on those with addictions. They preyed on those who were defenseless. ... Today, those predators became the prey," Torres said.

About 500 federal, state and local law enforcement agents served search and arrest warrants.

The arrests were mainly peaceful, although one man sought for federal firearms violations refused to come out of his house, Raichel said. Residents, some in their pajamas, were evacuated from a one-block area and an emergency police team was called in. The standoff ended less than three hours later when tear gas was fired into the home.

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