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2 charged with violating skid row injunction

L.A. prosecutes under ban on gang and drug activity downtown.

November 18, 2011|Andrew Blankstein

Two reputed gang members have been charged with violating an injunction prohibiting gang and narcotics activity on Los Angeles' skid row, the first such legal action since the broad-reaching injunction was issued, city prosecutors said Thursday.

Briant Hicks, 22, and Mirando Faulks, 30, each face one criminal count of violating a court order barring them from being present within the "Central City Recovery Zone," bordered by 3rd Street on the north, 9th Street on the south, Broadway on the west and Central Avenue on the east.

The injunction, issued in April, lists 78 people identified by law enforcement as "the most prolific narcotics dealers" in the recovery zone and prohibited from being in the area, possessing drugs or dangerous weapons, or using others to make drug sales on skid row. Authorities said drug dealers have targeted agencies serving the homeless and parks.

Hicks, on parole for drug offenses, was arrested Nov. 5 after being seen by officers within the area covered by the injunction, according to the office of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. Faulks, who has previous convictions for selling drugs and for theft, was arrested Monday after officers saw him "associating with known narcotic users within the stay-away zone," city prosecutors said.

The skid row injunction is modeled after similar efforts targeting gangs in other parts of the county. But Assistant City Atty. Anne Tremblay said a key difference is that those named in the court order must stay away from the area rather than stop associating with each other.

"It's a strong remedy but one that was warranted and one the court thought was warranted," Tremblay said. "We'll see if [the gang members] get the message."

The injunction is the latest step in the city's crackdown on crime on skid row. The area has been home to the city's most concentrated police presence since 2006, when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and then-Police Chief William J. Bratton deployed 50 additional officers there as part of the controversial Safer City initiative.

Crime has dropped sharply in recent years: Property crime dropped 44% and violent crime 40% between 2005 and 2009. The decline coincided with a downtown revitalization effort that has brought luxury lofts to the city's urban core.

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andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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