LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed gang and narcotics related nuisance abatement lawsuits against the owners of three apartment buildings, all located on the same block of West 82nd Street in South Los Angeles. The apartment buildings allegedly are strongholds for the notorious 18th Street and Hoovers street gangs and have been the sites of dangerous criminal activity, including homicides, shootings, gun possession and methamphetamine and cocaine sales.
“It is unconscionable that anyone in Los Angeles has to live in conditions like this,” said Feuer. “We’re taking back this neighborhood from the gangs and returning it to the residents who live there.”
“Abatements are not easy, but our communities deserve to be safe, particularly where families live and play," said Chief Charlie Beck. “These abatements are a valuable tool in our efforts to reduce fear and create communities that are free of narcotics trafficking and gang violence.”
The City Attorney has filed two abatement lawsuits against Mike Espinosa and Peggy Espinosa, trustees of the Espinosa Family Trust, which owns a 9-unit apartment building located at 538 West 82nd Street and which also jointly owns, with Nancy Osborne, a 20-unit apartment building located at 601 West 82nd Street. The properties are located directly across the street from each other and are allegedly used as bases of operation for the 18th Street gang for narcotics sales and other gang-related criminal activity.
Since 2011, the LAPD has made or conducted at least 21 arrests or criminal investigations at the frequently gang graffiti-covered 601 West 82nd Street, including multiple undercover drug buys, one as recent as January 2016, as well as a gang-related shooting and the recovery of a handgun in an empty unit. The neighboring apartment at 538 West 82nd Street, which is alleged to operate in tandem with 601 West 82nd Street to facilitate 18th Street’s drug trade, has also been the site of approximately 14 narcotics arrests or investigations involving the sale of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, as recently as January 2016. The property has also been the location of a homicide and at least one shooting, both gang-related, over the years.
A concurrent lawsuit was filed against Summit Assets Group, LCC, the owner of an 11- unit apartment building located at 723 West 82nd Street. The property is allegedly controlled by the Hoovers criminal street gang, which coexists with 18th Street on the block due to their mutual drug trade interests.
Since 2003 there have been four shootings at or connected to the property, including one homicide in August 2015, as well as a stabbing in February 2015, all gang-related. LAPD officers have arrested multiple Hoovers gang members in possession of loaded guns at the property including three incidents in the past year.
All three lawsuits seek an injunction prohibiting gang and criminal activity on the property, physical and managerial improvements to the property including: an internet-connected video monitoring system; improved lighting; secure gating and fencing; improved tenant screening and lease enforcement procedures; and armed, licensed security guards.
Since July, 2013, City Attorney Feuer’s Federal and Local Special Abatement Operations Unit has filed 39 actions similar to these actions and obtained 56 injunctions requiring comprehensive physical and managerial improvements to nuisance properties. In this same time period, the office has also successfully secured the closure of eight gang/narcotics locations and recovered over $270,000 in costs and fees.
Feuer also recently established an easy-to-use online method through which residents may report properties with gang and/or narcotics activity in their neighborhoods. He's asking residents to report these properties by calling his office at (213) 978-8340 or visiting the City Attorney’s website. All reports may be made anonymously.