- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mayor and police chief yesterday identified 11 of the most-violent groups in the city and promised to confront them with more law enforcement.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police Chief William Bratton announced the plans at a police station in a San Fernando Valley neighborhood where gang crime more than doubled last year.

“Street gangs are responsible for the majority of all the murders in Los Angeles and nearly 70 percent of all the shootings,” Mr. Villaraigosa said Wednesday at a previously scheduled international summit on gang issues. “We must work to address gang violence in a truly comprehensive way.”

Los Angeles has more than 700 gangs, with 39,000 members. The new plan identifies 11 of the most-dangerous gangs, which total 800 members, and some of their most-notorious members.

While city crime rates continued to fall last year, gang-related offenses increased 14 percent — the first increase in four years.

Other parts of the initiative involve seeking more gang injunctions that ban members from congregating in certain neighborhoods, training residents on how to recognize gang members and creating a list of the 10 most-wanted gang members, said Lt. Paul Vernon, a police spokesman.

Additionally, police plan to bring together more than 120 top homicide and gang detectives in South Los Angeles, one of the most gang-plagued areas. The FBI also has agreed to reserve a spot on its Ten Most Wanted List for a Los Angeles gang member.

Some specialists feared some gangs would feel slighted if not named and might try to raise the ante with more-violent crime.

“To the gang members, it is a badge of honor,” said Najee Ali, a community activist and former gang member.

Mr. Villaraigosa also has appealed to U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales for millions of dollars in anti-gang funds and for more federal prosecutors to pursue racketeering and other charges mostly used in the past against organized crime. Mr. Gonzales has dubbed gangs one of the country’s greatest threats.

The mayor is also working with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who has assigned agents to an anti-gang task force in the San Fernando Valley to work alongside police officers deputized as federal officers.

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