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USC DPS Comments On Federal Indictment Of Nearby Gang

Michael Juliani |
December 6, 2012 | 3:29 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

Someone with a Harpys tattoo across his back.  (Flickr Creative Commons)
Someone with a Harpys tattoo across his back. (Flickr Creative Commons)

Federal authorities arrested eighteen gang members Thursday morning as part of three indictments against the gang that claimed territory just north of USC, according to the L.A. Times.  Members of the Harpys gang have allegedly been part of at least one murder, drug sales, extortion and robberies.

The gang is reportedly controlled by the Mexican mafia, and one of the people arrested Thursday morning is the 37-year-old daughter of Mexican Mafia member Danny Roman, who allegedly led the gang during his life sentence in Pelican Bay State Prison.  The feds say that Roman's daughter and her husband visited Danny Roman in prison, returning with orders.

The Harpys allegedly pay taxes to senior members of the Mexican Mafia, who oversee a network of smaller street gangs like the Harpys gang.  The Mexican Mafia (often known as "La Eme") gives orders to street gang members, including orders to kill, that can elevate the smaller gang's status.

The Harpys gang, otherwise known as the Harpys-Dead End gang, claimed territory that spanned from Normandie Avenue to Figueroa Street and Washington Boulevard to Jefferson Boulevard. 

The L.A. city attorney's office previously targeted the gang in the late nineties for alleged shakedowns, robberies, vandalism and murder, according to the L.A. Times.

During Thursday morning's arrests, labeled Operation Roman Empire, authorities also found eight and a half pounds of methamphetamine, about half a pound of heroin, one pound of cocaine, 23 pounds of marijuana and 22 guns.  The L.A. Times story said that the defendants will face racketeering charges, and all but one of them face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The indictment files said that the gang has also committed burglaries against USC students.

Captain David Carlisle of USC's Department of Public Safety said although campus police weren't involved in Operation Roman Empire, DPS is "very pleased that [authorities] are taking action against a street gang that has operated a long time in the area."

Captain Carlisle didn't comment on the USC student burglary cited in the indictment, which also couldn't be found in records of DPS's daily logs.

According to the files, the gang members often have tattoos that say "Harpys," "HPS," "Dead End," "DE," "13" and "H."  Gang signs are also graffitied around the gang's territory.  They supposedly wear clothing that features the letter "H" and "D," like uniforms for the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers.  They also wear a lot of Dodgers gear.

They also do hand signs that make the letter "H" by toughing their index fingers together and sticking both their thumbs up. 

According to the indictment, the gang has been around since the late-1960s.

Reach Executive Producer Michael Juliani here.



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