Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gang Threatens Rec Center

The noisy rec center became graveyard silent in an instant. There were eight members of the De Soto gang, somewhere between the ages of sixteen and twenty, who were a mix of races--three African-Americans, two Latinos, two Caucasians, and an Asian--all males. They were clad in the latest Valley gang regalia: mismatched military clothing and boots. Like many L.A. gangs, the De Sotos patterned themselves after the maverick inner-city militia, which had unofficially occupied four square miles of south-central Los Angeles for over a year. The tyrannized area—called "the dead zone" by the media—was a hellhole of drugs, prostitution, violence, and murder. Even the Los Angeles Police Department, having lost several officers there, had unofficially conceded the dead zone to the ruthless south-central militia.

Jon, the only adult, sucked a long, slow breath at the prospect of trouble. The De Sotos were known to terrorize kids for their money and valuables—and sometimes just for amusement. If they couldn't frighten their intended victims into submission, they thought nothing of using a knife or gun to carry out their threats. The rough-looking group who had just invaded the gym were probably packing weapons under their bulky trench coats and bomber jackets.

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