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Reputed Compton gang members to be indicted on civil-rights charges

 Graffiti-marred steeple of the Greater Holy Faith Baptist Church on 155th Street in Compton.  Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Attorney's office is bringing federal civil rights charges against reputed members of a Compton gang arrested for alleged hate crimes against a black family.

U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte and Sheriff Lee Baca plan to announce an indictment Friday morning involving alleged members of Compton Varrio 155, according to several law enforcement sources. Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the crimes.

Los Angeles County sheriff's anti-gang investigators last month took into custody two men in connection with the alleged hate crimes tied to a series of attacks on a black family — a mother, three teenage children and a 10-year-old boy and a male visitor to the home.

Sheriff's detectives last month arrested Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, of Gardena, and Efren Marquez, 21, of the Inland Empire, both alleged members of the Compton Varrio 155 gang. Both were held in county jails on unrelated probation violations for prior crimes.

Sheriff's investigators allege the pair were involved in the first attack Dec. 31, when a friend came to visit the family and four men in a black SUV pulled up and used a racial slur, saying black people were barred from the neighborhood.

They allegedly jumped out, drew a gun on him and beat him with metal pipes, authorities said. It was just the beginning of what detectives said was a campaign by a Latino street gang to force an African American family to leave.

The attacks on the family are the latest in a series of violent incidents in which Latino gangs targeted blacks in parts of greater Los Angeles over the last decade. Compton, with a population of about 97,000, was predominantly black for many years. It is now 65% Latino and 33% black, according to the 2010 U.S. census.

"This family has no gang ties whatsoever," Sheriff's Lt. Richard Westin told The Times last week. "They are complete innocent victims here."

Sheriff's detectives have searched 11 locations in Compton, Gardena and Rialto and are hoping to make more arrests. Aguilar is accused of beating the family friend with the pipes and Marquez is accused of waving a gun in his face, authorities said. Deputies also arrested a juvenile gang member who fought with one of them during a search and tried to grab the officer's pistol.

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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Graffiti-marred steeple of the Greater Holy Faith Baptist Church on 155th Street in Compton.  Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

 
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