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FBI, police arrest 50 in crackdown on Los Angeles gang

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - FBI agents and police targeting a Los Angeles street gang made 50 arrests on Tuesday, as prosecutors filed an indictment accusing the gang's members of committing murders, robberies and drug crimes over a span of more than two decades, officials said.

In their joint crackdown on the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips, officials said federal and local law enforcement officers focused on the most violent clique within the street gang.

The gang has about 200 members and operates in South Los Angeles near the city's skid row, catering to drug-addicted denizens of the area, federal prosecutors said.

"This gang has been a thorn in the side of this area for a long time," Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price Jr said at a news conference.

Prosecutors charged 72 people with crimes ranging from drug trafficking to conspiracy to engage in illegal activities, in a 112-page federal court indictment unsealed on Tuesday. They all face at least 10 years in prison if convicted.

Most of those charged in the federal indictment were arrested on Tuesday, but 17 people were already in custody on unrelated charges and authorities were searching for another seven defendants, prosecutors said.

The indictment lists four murders dating back to 1987 that prosecutors said members of the gang committed, and it accuses some in the organization of following bank customers to their homes and robbing them, as well as dealing drugs near schools.

In total, a force of over 1,300 FBI agents and Los Angeles police officers fanned out across the gang's territory on Tuesday, arresting 50 people associated with the gang, including two who were not named in the indictment but were charged with crimes in state court, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

FBI special weapons and tactics teams from as far away as Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Francisco came to Los Angeles to assist in making the arrests, said Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

(Reporting by Dana Feldman Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by James Dalgleish and Jim Loney)

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