No, Not Goblin Glider…that’s a Spider-Man thing.

Harsh realities.

Harsh realities.

Remember “bath salts?” A whole category of terrifying designer drugs that resembled stuff you put in the tub, and turned a guy in Miami into a pain resistant cannibal? People were terrified that the zombie apocalypse was nigh, except in truth, it was the work of something more scary…the propensity of humans to put dangerous things into their bodies.

I’m starting to gear up for going back to school, hence the return to our hero’s more “tactical” look. I was trying to think, if the Joker and the Creeper both fell into a conveniently located vat of toxic chemicals…if Swamp Thing got his powers from being doused in a swamp full of dangerous comic book science…

…is the above not the genesis of a more modern, more gritty, possibly authored by Mark Millar supervillain? I say yes.

Still…I’m dodging what the strip is really about. I keep mentioning that our school’s Darths are in complete denial about our actual gang issues in the area, and keep mentioning Operation: Gremlin Riderz. I figure now i should let the proverbial cat out of the bag, and put the cards on the table. Operation: Gremlin Riderz culminated with a massive interagency crime bust as my school year closed, and ironically, the massive action began at the same time the school was reorganized.

What was it? Good question.

Dozens of members of a notorious Los Angeles street gang were arrested as federal and local investigators moved to break up what they said was a violent and powerful cartel that ran a drug operation that stretched as far as Louisiana. Already cool.

I got to use “cartel” in a sentence about my work. As a TEACHER.

Members of the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips have long imposed their will with acts of violence as they freely sold drugs near schools and playgrounds and even moved into skid row in downtown L.A. because of its potential as a drug market, according to law enforcement. Nearly all of the 50 people taken into custody were among 72 defendants named in a 213-page racketeering indictment accusing gang members of a multitude of crimes in South Los Angeles and far beyond. Eight defendants remain at large. The rest were already in custody.

Check it…that’ actually a BOOK LENGTH indictment. Whoa.

The three-year investigation, dubbed Operation Gremlin Riderz (referring to a subset of the Five Deuce Crips), focused on a South L.A. gang that formed in the 1970s and claims to control the neighborhoods around the intersection of South Broadway and 52nd Street. Federal, state and Los Angeles law enforcement investigators allege the gang is responsible for committing at least four killings since 1987 and decades of shootings, stabbings, armed robberies and violent confrontations with police.

The gang set up a network of scouts with cellphones to warn other gang members when police entered their territory, the indictment says. To hide its activities, the indictment alleges, the gang disciplined members for even talking to cops or getting their name on police reports they call “paperwork.” To cover for their activities, the gang uses “female associates to rent out residences, establish credit accounts, rent vehicles and transport controlled substances,” because it’s believed they draw less attention, according to the indictment.

So I want to point out…I’ve recently done lengthy schtick about Two Face and the Joker having issues renting a headquarters when they get out of Arkham. I mean…they only need an apartment, but who is renting to an evil clown, or Harvey @#$#% Two Face? Forget the security deposit. They would have to go through henchmen, which would be less suspicious but affect rental costs for everyone.

This strategy of using henchmen to get your stuff…it’s in use.

During the investigation, task force members said they seized cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamine, marijuana, crack cocaine, PCP and gallons of codeine syrup. again…I want to put a very fine point on it. GALLONS of codeine. Gallons.

“This gang has been a thorn in the side of not just this community, but this area for a long time,” law enforcement said. Ya think? All 72 defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison if convicted, and many face potential life sentences.

All in all…despite the massive operation, it’s a small dent in the overall crime. One will hope however, that this helps the Darths to actually acknowledge the need to enforce our uniform policies, in order to prevent groups from “representing” on campus. Last year, by the end of the year, a large faction of students were openly supporting local sets with colors, which in a safety situation, is beyond troubling.

All summer I have been sitting on summarizing this case, thinking it is more apropos to the return to campus. With that happening this week, for a sit down with Pledge LA to negotiate the terms of a cease fire between my remaining team members, them, and the Darths, it seemed like time.

Back to the art. Knowing full well how ordinary, 40’s looking mobsters can be turned into the Joker with a dip in toxic waste…our hero can only be depressed at that gigantic label.

Next Issue: I’m a Robot, He’s a Robot…Wouldn’t You Like to be a Robot, Too?

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