Sunday, March 30, 2008

Crime Spree Drew Street: The Sequel

There's another stock gang story in the LA Times today. It covers Drew Street in the Glassell Park area of Los Angeles, and is a retread of the story they did after a daytime shootout last month.

Check it out and then ask yourself these questions:

- the "Satellite House" seems to have been a major drug distribution point. Does the article find out who owned it, or operated it?
- who owned or operated the overbuilt and undermaintained housing that was constructed after the early 1980s?
- Drew Street appears to have been a base of operations for organized crime. Why does this article replace the Avenues gang and the "Eme" cross-border crime syndicate with a focus on one woman, Maria Leon, and her thirteen children?
- what is the function of references to the village of Tlalchapa - Leon's origin - in the Mexican state of Guerrero, called "one of Mexico's most violent regions"?
- are these statements meant to explain Drew Street's trafficking and violence in a causal way?
"Tlalchapans moved into many of the new apartments, said former Drew Street residents. As they did, neighbors said, fights, parties and heavy drinking became more common."
As more Tlalchapans arrived on Drew Street, "it was the law of the revolver," Flocelo Aguirre said.

Police task forces, gang sweeps, arrests -- even a 2002 gang injunction -- have done little to break the bonds of family and culture that breed criminal activity on Drew Street, officials said.
If so, is the author saying that Drew Street crime comes from Tlalchapan's culture of crime?

The piece is fun pulp fiction, but if you tried to do urban policy, sociology, or crime detection with its type of information (stereotypes, general trends, a "usual suspect," and no specifics about individual associations, building ownership, etc material), you would fail. There's no syndicate, police force, crooked urban officials, payoffs and deals, all the usual stuff that make something like the Drew Street system operate.


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