(Photo: KTLA 5 Screenshot)
Los Angeles police have uncovered photos of young children posing with guns and making gang hand gestures on social media sites associated with local gang members.
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Commander Bill Scott said the pictures were symptoms of a larger, systematic problem of violence.
"It's a culture of violence. When you grow up in a culture like that, violence becomes secondary. It becomes second nature. And that's the cycle we're trying to disrupt," Scott said in a press conference.
The photos were released as the LAPD and FBI agents apprehended close to 40 Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips gang members, during a raid early Wednesday morning.
In 2012, the LAPD launched Operation Thumbs Down, a campaign aimed directly at going after the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips, one of the area's most violent gangs. According to federal officials the gang has anywhere between 700 to 1,000 members.
The 1.5-square-mile-radius in which the gang operates has been among the most dangerous in Los Angeles. In the past five years, the area has seen five homicides, 1,100 robberies and 1,075 assaults. The FBI also suspects them in a string of residential burglaries.
Despite the success of the crackdown, according to District Attorney's office, the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips are both one of the region's most "sophisticated" gangs, both in terms of governance and breadth of Southern California that they cover.
"We've traced them up into Simi Valley, up into Van Nuys, different parts of the city," FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Delaney told The Los Angeles Times. "So they're not only preying on their local community, they're starting to spread out and preying on different areas of Los Angeles."
Federal charges were filed for drug distribution and possession against gang members. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is currently seeking to remove gang members from housing units.