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Gangs of Hollenbeck

Aired March 26, 2010 - 23:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Gunfire, intimidation, murder and fear. That's the reality of life in any member of gang ravaged neighborhoods right here in America.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Welcome to a CNN 360 SPECIAL, "Gangs of Hollenbeck".

In the next hour we're going to take you to a neighborhood where stray bullets claim innocent lives, where witnesses are afraid to talk to police and where just standing on the wrong sidewalk can get you killed.

Five years ago we reported on one of the most gang-infested neighborhoods in Los Angeles, a city which is the nation's gang capital. Well now, five years later we've returned to see how life has changed.

We want to warn you our report includes some graphic images that may not be suitable for young viewers, but this is reality. This is "Gangs of Hollenbeck".


COOPER (voice-over): For 15 square miles east of down Los Angeles there's Hollenbeck. Just about every block here claimed by a gang.

RICHARD MOYA, FORMER GANG MEMBER: It's all about money and territory.

COOPER: Claiming it, defending it and taking more, often through bloodshed. It's a common story in Hollenbeck, a violent story told year after year, generation to generation.

MILTON BUENO, FATHER OF STEVE BUENO: I can think of the other people that have died here, so many. And they were all young. My son was 20 years old.

DETECTIVE DEWAINE FIELDS, LOS ANGELES POLICE: You live in that lifestyle it's not if, it's when. And unless you get out of that life there's two ways you're going to end up, one is in the ground and the other one is in prison.

COOPER: Police say the Hollenbeck division has the highest concentration of gangs in all of Los Angeles. No one is immune from the violence.

SOLEDAD BROCK, MOTHER OF RONALD AND ANGEL: Closure would just be like having my son back. That's the only thing that would help me and that's not going to happen.

COOPER: When we first reported from Hollenbeck five years ago overall gang crime was down but gang-related homicides were on the rise.

ENRIQUE KIKI FRUTUS, FORMER GANG MEMBER: Right there 10:00 in the morn, a drive-by.

And you know, when you got shot, you're like, damn and people are just screaming and are you going to be all right. And I am like damn. Then I'm looking at them, like, damn I'm in the hospital. I got shot in my arm.

COOPER: Five years later the murder rate has fallen here, it's down dramatically, and yet, there is still bloodshed on these streets.

COOPER: Did you think you would live to be 32 years old?

MOYA: I don't thing I would have able to say that I would have been able to live by the age of 18 years old.

COOPER: Its more heat on the streets say the cops.

FIELDS: I've seen just as many people come out of some of these projects or housing developments that are success stories as I have that are murderous thugs and gangsters, so I think it's an individual choice.

COOPER: Thugs and gangsters, there's still an estimated 6,800 gang members in Hollenbeck, still too many unsolved murders.

BUENO: I knew right then and there he was not going to make it. He just -- I am trying to hold it upside. But how can you hold something when you watch your son die in your arms.

COOPER: This is bad news. Witness intimidation and fear of retaliation -- the code of silence plays loudly here.

FIELDS: When somebody that talks to the police being labeled as a rat or snitch, a rat or a snitch gets killed out here.

COOPER: Detectives say it is plain and simple domestic terrorism.


COOPER: Up next a murder caught on tape.


BUENO: I told his friends they were back here, "He got hit. He got hit." COOPER: And later, life inside of a gang.

FRUTUS: It feels good, I'm just getting my life back together. I have to take it a day at a time.


COOPER: A long time gang-banger tries to make a new life. A surprise change five years later as CNN's "Gangs of Hollenbeck" continues.



COOPER (voice-over): On September 9th, 2009, a surveillance camera captures a drive-by shooting in broad daylight. For police, the tape should be a great piece of luck.

FIELDS: This isn't a case where you're going to look for DNA. This is a drive-by shooting, and it's -- I call it the coward shooting, because it's really easy to drive by at 15 miles an hour and shoot at somebody.

COOPER (on camera): Where were you when it actually happened?

BUENO: I was in the second-floor window looking towards the driveway.

COOPER: And you heard the shots?

BUENO: I heard the shots and one of them hit the window.

COOPER (voice-over): Milton Bueno was lucky he wasn't hit; the gunman, shown in this tape obtained exclusively by CNN, fires into his driveway.

(on camera): When you first heard the shots, what did you think?

BUENO: Gang.

COOPER: You knew?

BUENO: I knew right away. This is an area surrounded by gangs.

COOPER: Milton's son Steven, however, who is also known as Grinch was standing in the driveway. He was shot in the head.

BUENO: Two shots rang. The second one, he dropped.

COOPER: So, this is the spot?

BUENO: This is the spot where he dropped.

COOPER (voice-over): Steven was with several friends when he was hit. That's his blood?

BUENO: That's his blood. His friend was holding him, blood was coming.

COOPER (on camera): So all of this?

BUENO: All of that is blood.

COOPER (voice-over): Milton immediately knew his son was dying.

BUENO: And then, when I went to him -- he got shot in the head near the eye. I was talking to him and telling him, "Stay Steve, stay with me, stay with me." And I saw him curl up his hands and I knew right away, he was going into shock.

COOPER: By the time paramedics arrived, Steven was brain dead. He was 20 years old.

BUENO: It's hard for a person to see -- to see your son get shot in front of you -- to see him get shot in front of you and there's nothing you can do, but hold him in your arms while he's dying. Somebody out there had to see something.

FIELDS: It's not an easy case to solve. It's a gang case.

COOPER: Veteran Detective Dewaine Fields knows every gang in the sprawling Hollenbeck neighborhood.

(on camera): When you got to the scene, what was the first thing you did?

FIELDS: We looked on the ground for casings and then we looked in the air for cameras and that's what we do.

COOPER: For cameras?

FIELDS: Absolutely. This is the City of Los Angeles, there's cameras everywhere in this city.

COOPER (voice-over): The camera on the street was working and recorded this tape.

(on camera): And what did the video show you?

FIELDS: It showed me a vehicle, green Honda drive up the street. A short time later turn around and you hear the shots being fired and you see that same green Honda take off.

COOPER: And no one has come forward with any details about who was in the car?

FIELDS: I've got a lot of names and I think they're probably involved but I can't put them behind the wheel and I can't put them holding the gun.

COOPER: You need an eyewitness to come forward?

FIELDS: I need an eyewitness.

It was 18th Street, do we know?

COOPER (voice-over): Detective Fields is convinced Steven's friends know who shot him.

(on camera): His friends saw it?

FIELDS: Well, I am aware of at least three or maybe four of his friends saw it and none of them come forward of course.

COOPER: Not a single one?

FIELDS: Not a single one. They saw, they know. But I needed somebody to say, yes, I saw the car. I saw who was in the car and I saw who pulled the trigger. And they did, it was broad daylight.

COOPER: You are sure they saw it?

FIELDS: No doubt in my mind. No doubt in my mind.

COOPER: Steven Buenos' best friend, Robert Deras or High-Tech, as he's known was there when the shooting took place, but he insists he didn't see a thing.

ROBERT DERAS, FRIEND OF STEVE BUENO: I had walked back to get my cell phone and that's when it happened. I was in the back and I was playing with the German Shepherd and that's when I heard the shots. I heard a couple of them, and at least more than five or something like that. And I just got down and then I came to the front. And I just saw Stevie bleeding, so.

COOPER (voice-over): He never saw the actual shooter he says, or the green Honda leaving the scene.

DERAS: I was in the back, so I didn't really see anything, understand anything, you know. I was in shock you know. So I was not really trying to think of all of that. I was just concerned about my friend, my home boy.

COOPER: Richard Moya has been involved with gangs and gang violence much of his life. He says he no longer associates with the gang, but Moya says the code of silence, especially in a gang-related killing is one of the most sacred rules on the streets.

(on camera): If you are in a gang and you talk to the police about somebody else in the gang, that's a violation of the gang code?

MOYA: That's beyond a huge violation; that is just raising your hand and say hey, I'm ready, come and kill me, because I'm a snitch.

COOPER (voice-over): Being labeled a snitch. On the streets, it's the worst insult there is. Detectives say because no one wants that label some 30 percent of the gang-related homicides in Hollenbeck go unsolved. That means that 30 percent of suspected killers get away with murder.

(on camera): Why was Steven Bueno killed?

FIELDS: A rival gang shot. Steven Bueno was well known in that neighborhood, his name was all over the walls up there.

COOPER: They called him Grinch?

FIELDS: Grinch. He grew up in the neighborhood so they caught him slipping, they caught him unarmed and not prepared.

BUENO: Everybody put your hands together.

COOPER (voice-over): Steven Bueno's father Milton finds it hard to believe his son had enemies.

BUENO: In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

COOPER: He hopes someone will come forward; he wants his son's murder solved.

(on camera): There's a lot of concern in a lot of communities about being labeled a snitch.


COOPER: When you hear that term, what do you thing?

BUENO: It is a term that here is very serious, because here you'll get killed for it.

COOPER: Even if it's just witnessing a crime?

BUENO: Yes, you've got to understand -- the gangs out here would call you that and would label you that.

COOPER: Do you worry that some gang is going to want retribution; some of Stevie's friends are going to want --


COOPER: -- to get back at who shot him.

BUENO: Yes, I talk with them and I told them, no retribution, I don't want no more bloodshed, it's got to stop here.

COOPER: Do you think it will stop?

BUENO: No. I can hold them off for so long, but I can't hold them off forever.

COOPER (voice-over): A spiral of violence, more guns, more suspicions, and it can suddenly spin out of control.

FIELDS: Now that Grinch has been shot and killed, everybody's head is going to on a swivel and all of these gangsters are going to be packing, because they don't want to be the next one on the line.

COOPER: Milton Bueno only wants his son's killer behind bars.

(on camera): Why did you want to talk?

BUENO: I want justice the right way; to rot in jail for a long time for the rest of their lives, because they took a life. A life that I brought up with my wife as a baby and I watched him die in my arms; that's not right for any human being to see.

And my son is buried right here.

COOPER (voice-over): Milton visits his son's grave trying to keep his memory alive.

BUENO: Me and my wife always come here.

COOPER: Months after the shooting, Milton Bueno and his family moved to escape that horrible day, and the killer has not been found. Unless someone talk, it's unlikely justice will be served. His death will remain just another unsolved killing in Hollenbeck.


COOPER: When we return, two brothers: one in a gang, the other in the Marines. Both killed by gangs in a hail of bullets.


BROCK: Thank you, God, for not letting me go. Thank you for always being there for me, Jesus. I know you will never let me go.


COOPER: And later --


COOPER: Do you still never write anybody off?

BOYLE: Yes, I think this place is soaked with the sense of redemption.

COOPER: It's soaked with a sense of redemption.

BOYLE: Redemption.


COOPER: A father figure devoted to changing lives as CNN's "Gangs of Hollenbeck" continues.


COOPER: Soledad Brock often visits the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Hollenbeck. BROCK: Give me the serenity, God, to accept the things that I'll never be able to change.

COOPER: This is the final resting place for her two young sons. Ronald Brock was a Marine; Angel a gang member. They looked almost like twin, but their lives took two very different paths. Both, however, were gunned down in the same year at the same house where they grew up in Hollenbeck.

BROCK: People tell me, you know, it's time for me to move on and to forget. But I don't think anybody understands that your whole life was gone seven years ago.

COOPER: Seven years after their deaths, five years after we first reported their stories, detectives say they have solved one of these Hollenbeck murders, but there is a surprise twist in both cases.

The Hollenbeck area covers 15 square miles east of downtown Los Angeles. There are 34 gangs here with some 6,800 members. Some of the gangs have existed for generations in this area, and the lure of gang life is strong.

MOYA: People are out there, and they have a special order.

COOPER (on camera): Former gang member Richard Moya once considered his gang his family. Why be in a gang? What's the appeal?

MOYA: It's not the appeal; it's more like the bond. It's more like the friendship; it's more like the comfort something that you probably don't even get within your own household.

COOPER: But Moya says for every friend you get in the gang, you create far more enemies.

Some are able to resist the temptation of joining a gang. Ronald Brock took a very different path than Moya and his brother Angel. After Boot Camp after September 11th, Ronald wanted to defend his country though his mother worried he might die overseas.

BROCK: I honestly didn't want him to go.

COOPER: Before his deployment, Ronald came home to visit his girlfriend. He was planning to propose to her. But that weekend Ronald arrived at his mother's home, he was confronted by gang members just outside the house. Moments later, there were gunshots. One of those bullets was fatal. Ronald Brock was just 19 years old.

FIELDS: And we know that Mr. Brock -- we believe that Mr. Brock was not armed when he was killed.

COOPER: Thirty-year veteran Detective Dewaine Fields supervises the Hollenbeck gang unit. He says Ronald's brother Angel was the actual target.

(on camera): Ronald Brock was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. FIELDS: The wrong place at the wrong time. He was in his brother's gang neighborhood where his home is. His brother was a gang member. He had his head shaved, because he is a United States Marine Corps and the United States Marine Corps shaves their heads. And most of the thugs out here and most of the gangsters out here have shaved their heads.

He was a male Hispanic and unfortunately he's in East Los Angeles with a shaved head. And they thought that he was a gang member and there is no evidence whatsoever to lead me to believe that he was; wrong place, wrong time, a mistaken identity.

COOPER: And what's been tough about solving that?

FIELDS: Witnesses. Witnesses.

COOPER: No one is coming forward?

FIELDS: No one is coming forward.

COOPER: Did they think he was his brother?

FIELDS: I believe so.

Looks like we -- they may have a jailhouse informant.

COOPER (voice-over): Seven years after Brock's death detectives are still looking for his killer.

FIELDS: Survey that house, see if we can find --

COOPER: Detective Fields need an eyewitness or another gang member to identify Ronald's killer, a small trace of DNA lifted from a cough drop near Ronald's body was not enough to match a profile.

(on camera): Some people you know say people in the community, you talk to people and they say, look, people don't come forward and talk to police because they're scared, they're scared of retaliation.

FIELDS: Correct.

COOPER: Is that a valid fear?

FIELDS: Sure, yes. And I think that's in any community, I think that anybody that reports a crime kind of worries about that. But 29 years on this job, I have only lost one witness in 29 years and I have dealt with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of witnesses. So it's not as common as someone might think.

Most of these gangsters are cowards; they're not going to do anything.

COOPER (voice-over): But gangs only need to make a few examples to send a message.

Take the case of Bobby Singleton, a homeless man who was murdered to prevent him from testifying against a gang member. (on camera): Singleton's body was found under this L.A. bridge. He's been shot in the head and in the neck five times. Police said it was overkill designed to send a message; a warning to others never to speak to police.

(voice-over): Soledad Brock was still grieving for her son Ronald when seven months after her son was killed, her other son, Angel, who was in a gang, was killed in a barrage of gun fire.

FIELDS: He was approached by a couple of different gang members, rival gang members, he and another fellow and a major gun fight ensued. The problem with that one, Anderson, was even though we know how many guns were involved, we had 9 millimeter, 45, 7.62 rounds, a 30 caliber carbine rounds, I mean, it was -- it was a gun fight.

The problem with it is that we know how many guns were there and we know who were involved, but we don't know who pulled the trigger first.

COOPER (on camera): It's possible that Angel shot first?

FIELDS: It's possible, possible he was hit by friendly fire and he was shot in the back of the head.

COOPER: So the only way you can solve that now is if somebody who was involved in it --

FIELDS: We arrested the guys involved in it.

COOPER: Did the guys who were arrested -- did they talk?

FIELDS: No. We had witnesses on the case finally who come forward and say these are -- what they did is said, is we saw these two individuals rival gang members approach with guns in hand, but didn't see the actual shootout themselves.

COOPER: Do you think they actually did see the gunfire, they just didn't want to say who pulled the trigger?

FIELDS: Probably, probably.

COOPER (voice-over): Letting go in Hollenbeck is hard; a gang- related funeral nearby, a reminder that violence is never far away. Soledad Brock's sons now lay side by side. But nobody has been held accountable for the murders. Two days before he was killed, Ronald Brock learned his girlfriend was pregnant.

BROCK: He would have been a really great father.

COOPER: His daughter is now seven and her name is Ronnie Angeline Brock, named after her father and uncle.

BROCK: She looks like him, like the way she smiles, the way she talks, the way she walks -- everything.

Thank you, God, for not letting me go. Thank you for always being there for me, Jesus.

COOPER: Each morning Soledad Brock says a prayer for justice and a prayer for her sons, Ronald and Angel, and for the little girl who will grow up never knowing either of them.


COOPER: Five years ago we reported about the unsolved killing of Jesus Hernandez.


COOPER: A stray bullet killed an innocent bystander a block and a half away.


COOPER: A construction worker struck in the head during a gang related shootout. In a terrible coincidence, his niece, 10-year-old Stephanie Ragosa (ph) was also fatally shot while playing in her front yard.

This year, there was a break in the Hernandez case. A witness finally came forward and the suspected gang member was charged with his murder. Stephanie Ragosa's case remains unsolved. Hollenbeck detectives still need an eyewitness.

Up next --


FIELDS: Whoever walked up on Gabriel walked right up to him. Gabriel had a gun in his waist and never pulled it out. That tells me that he knew who ever killed him.


COOPER: When the code of silence turns deadly as "Gangs of Hollenbeck" continues.


CHRITINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The AC360 SPECIAL "Gangs of Hollenbeck" continues in a moment.

First, a news and business bulletin.

President Obama today announced a new arms treaty with Russia calling it quote, "The most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades." The president says it will reduce nuclear weapons deployment by the U.S. and Russia by about a third.

At least 11 people were killed in Kentucky today when a tractor- trailer crossed a median crashing head-on into a van. The van passengers were all Mennonites traveling to a wedding in Iowa. Ten of them died along with the tractor-trailer driver. The White House today announced a two-prong plan to help struggling homeowners; it lowers payments on government-backed mortgages and reduces them for homeowners who are unemployed. Officials say the new plan will be paid for with the money already set aside for the bank bailouts, the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

And in Texas, unbelievable dashboard video as an apparent drunk driver leads police on a 100-mile-an-hour chase. It was only after stopping the truck with a spike strip that officers learned the driver wasn't drunk at all; he was a 12-year-old boy. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Meantime, the boy remains in custody while police investigate.

Those are the headlines. The 360 SPECIAL "Gangs of Hollenbeck" continues in a moment.



COOPER (voice-over): Gabriel Ayala was in his backyard when someone shot him in the head at close range. Ayala was a gang member. This looked like a hit.

At the crime scene, Detective Dewaine Fields picked up on a telling detail.

DETECTIVE DEWAINE FIELDS, LOS ANGELES POLICE: Whoever walked up on Gabriel walked right up to him. Gabriel had a gun in his waist and never pulled it out. That tells me that he knew whoever killed him.

COOPER: Detective Fields knew Ayala well.

(on camera): so it wasn't a big surprise what happened to him?

FIELD: It wasn't if; it was when.

COOPER: It was just a matter of time?

FIELDS: Yes. Gabriel's time was coming. He was too active. He was too well-known. He played too hard trying to be too tough in his gang and it caught up to him.

COOPER (voice-over): Ayala had a lengthy criminal record and everyone in Hollenbeck seemed to know his name.

(on camera): What kind of reputation did Gabriel Ayala have?

FIELDS: He was a gang member. Everybody that works in this division knew the Ayala family really well.

COOPER: They were well known to you.

FIELDS: Well known to us. I've done several search warrants at that location. We got guns, we got dope, ammunition, bulletproof vests.

COOPER (voice-over): Detective Fields believes the events leading up to Ayala's execution began long ago.

(on camera): Two years before Ayala was killed, a rival gang member named Francisco Sanchez was approached by two gunmen outside this apartment. One suspect shot him multiple times and, as he fell to the ground right here the second suspect shot him again.

(voice-over): Authorities suspect the murder of Sanchez was in retaliation for the killing of a rival two days earlier. Gabriel Ayala was one of the suspected shooters charged with killing Sanchez. But the case against him fell apart.

FIELDS: It was a mistrial. His co-defendant, the guy that he -- was involved in the murder with him, was held on a separate charge, so he was in custody. Gabriel got released.

COOPER: This man, Ayala's co-defendant, a member of the same gang, was prosecuted and convicted of first-degree murder while Gabriel Ayala walked free.

FIELDS: So what did his gang think?

COOPER: They thought he'd talked.

FIELD: Thought he was a rat. They thought he'd talked.

COOPER: They considered him a snitch?

FIELDS: They considered him a snitch.

COOPER (voice-over): Richard Moya is a former gang member who knows the inner working of gangs.

(on camera): The term "snitch" what does that mean on the street?

MOYA: The term "snitch" is basically somebody that's talking to the cops, law enforcement, anybody that's talking to somebody to give up the information, that's a snitch.

COOPER: And what happens to snitches on the streets?

MOYA: Different consequences. Sometimes they get taken out by their own family members, which is within the gang.

COOPER: They actually call it the murder book?

FIELDS: It's a murder book?

COOPER (voice-over): When he got out of jail, Detective Fields says Gabriel Ayala was a dead man walking.

FIELDS: I believe that the gang thought that he must have had some information because his homeboy was still in jail and he wasn't. And I believe that they killed him behind that.

And the truth be known, Gabriel didn't tell us anything. They killed him for nothing. COOPER (on camera): He didn't give up information?

FIELDS: He didn't give up information and his cohort was later convicted for that murder, as would have he, had he survived.

COOPER: So Gabriel was killed by his own gang, you think?

FIELDS: I believe so.

COOPER (voice-over): In the tug-of-war between gang rivalry and gang loyalty, Gabriel Ayala became a victim of both.

(on camera): What does that say about all that talk about, you know, gangs being a family?

FIELDS: A dysfunctional family, isn't it? It's as dysfunctional as they come. They don't share. They don't spend money on one another, other than to buy beer, maybe some dope once in a while.

COOPER: So, it's not a band of brothers?

FIELDS: It is not a band of brothers, not even close.

COOPER: What will it take to solve Gabriel's murder?

FIELDS: Those are some of the toughest ones you're going to deal with. It's an inside hit. There are people in that gang that know who did it and why they did it. But for someone from his gang to tell me that a fellow gang member killed him, that's going to be a tough one.

COOPER: Unless one of them is arrested for something else and they want to try to lessen their sentence?

FIELDS: That's what I can hope for.

COOPER (voice-over): Detective Fields needs someone inside Ayala's gang to talk. Someone who has a reason to tell everything they know about who killed Gabriel Ayala.

(on camera): You'll be here waiting for him?

FIELDS: I will be here. I'm not going anywhere.


COOPER: After a break, a young man out of prison tries to leave gang life behind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt good to get my life back together. You know, I have to take it a day at a time, I guess.


COOPER: A surprise change five years later.



COOPER (voice-over): Enrique "Kiki" Frutus (ph) is about to take the biggest step away from the only lifestyle he's known.

When we first met Kiki, he was the hardest of the hardcore.

KIKI, FORMER GANG MEMEBER: I walked around with a tattoo on my head.

COOPER: His bragging, his brash certainty about life in a gang.

KIKI: Everybody likes to shoot.

COOPER: He was deep in it. Kiki made a powerful impression.

KIKI: I'll be the type, like, just beat them up first. And then, like, you know, if he beats me up then shoot him. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) like that.

COOPER: Kiki was 14 when he joined White Fence, one of Hollenbeck's 34 gangs. His initiation, he says, was brutal. He was jumped in, beaten up by fellow White Fence gang members. It's a common test of loyalty that gives new members a taste of what gang life is all about.

KIKI: I mean, for me, I like pain so, you know, you hit me, damn. I like it. I get -- it's like a rush, adrenaline rush for me. That should tell you everything.

COOPER: For Kiki, there was always a reason to fight.

KIKI: Another gang crosses out flats.

COOPER: Even the smallest slight -- White Fence graffiti crossed out -- could lead to violence.

KIKI: This just means war.

COOPER: Five years ago police said there were some 700 White Fence gang members and associates. Kiki liked to claim they were guardians of the neighborhood.

KIKI: We don't let nobody come in our neighborhood and be messing with the people's cars, breaking in their houses.

The little White Fence, you see it right there?

I mean, we see somebody trying to do that, we're going to get them.

COOPER: The gangs here are not guardians of the neighborhood. They typically live off drug dealing, assaults and robbery.

KIKI: Guns, drugs, assault. Attempted murder. Gang banging. Everything. COOPER (on camera): Some people would say it's wrong to be in a gang. It's wrong to sell drugs, gang bang, whatever.

KIKI: Well, selling drug is, like, I mean, if we don't do it, someone else is going to do it.

COOPER (voice-over): Kiki had already been shot three times.

KIKI: Right there, at 10 in the morning, drive-by. You know, when you get shot you're like, damn, people are just screaming. Are you going to be all right? I'm like, "Damn. I'm like, damn, I'm in the hospital. I got shot in my arm."

COOPER: Despite being shot, for Kiki the temptations of gang life were all around.

(on camera): What do you think it was that drew you to it in the first place?

(voice-over): Joining White Fence was no big deal for Kiki.

KIKI: My family are all from gangs.

COOPER: He says many of his relatives ran with a gang from another part of Hollenbeck. In the hard world and twisted logic of Hollenbeck, his gang filled all his needs: friends, families, and fights.

KIKI: I got my last name on my back.

COOPER: Older gang member, veteranos schooled Kiki in the odd logic of gang morality and the rules of engagement. Drive-by shootings were OK, as long as they didn't kill innocent kids.

KIKI: That's a no-no. I mean, damn, they don't know right from wrong. Us who are holding the gun do.

COOPER: And if a home boy was killed, gang members should take the law into their own hands.

KIKI: The cops, they got so many murders on their hand. I mean, we'd rather take our own actions.

COOPER (on camera): That was five years ago.

Today Kiki is 33, and he just got out of prison. He was doing time on a parole violation. He says that, after 20 years in gang life, he wants out. And he's finding that getting out is harder than it was getting in.

KIKI: I feel good, trying to get my life back together. You know? Got to take it a day at a time, I guess, first, making the first step.


COOPER (voice-over): Many of Kiki's friends are still in prison or dead. He's trying to start over, literally trying to erase the stains of years with a gang.

The tattoos that once told Kiki's gangster story are slowly fading. The pain of removing them is at times unbearable.

KIKI: It's like when you drop hot oil on your skin. That's exactly how it feels.

COOPER: Kiki wrote Father Greg Boyle from prison and asked for help. Father Boyle runs Homeboy Industries, the largest intervention and employment agency for gang members in Los Angeles. He's known Kiki for two decades.

(on camera): You think Kiki has woken up to the reality of gang life?

FATHER GREG BOYLE, HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES: I would say in terms of the gang issue, yes. You know, and everybody has that moment where they say, "I'm tired of being tired." And I think that's pretty much where he's been.

COOPER (voice-over): In Hollenbeck, surviving beyond the age of 30 is already a remarkable statistic for hard-core gang members like Kiki.

(on camera): Are you hopeful?

BOYLE: Yes. Yes. I mean, again, I think he's got the right attitude, and maybe sometimes people have to hit bottom. You know, he's struggling still, but I don't think he's struggling with -- with the gang part.

But not everybody who walks through the door is ready, and he hasn't always been ready. But I would say that he is now. That's why I'm going to hire him.

COOPER (voice-over): So Kiki will soon have a job with Homeboy Industries. Father Greg Boyle is giving him a chance, a chance for a new life in Hollenbeck.


COOPER: When we come back --


COOPER: So you have been shot six times total?


COOPER: Wow. Does that make you really lucky or really unlucky?

MOYA: I would say for the fact unlucky that I have to deal with the pain, but lucky that I am alive today.


COOPER: The long, difficult journey to break away from the gangs of Hollenbeck. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER (voice-over): Somehow Richard Moya has survived the gangs of Hollenbeck, but as he'll tell you, it's day-by-day.

(on camera): Where did you get shot?

RICHARD MOYA, FORMER GANG MEMBER: I got shot on the block where I'm at right now. And I took a bullet of a .45 underneath my heart, and I was just thankful that --

COOPER: Right under your heart?

MOYA: Yes, sir.

COOPER (voice-over): Moya claims he was simply the victim of a random drive-by shooting.

(on camera): And then what's that scar?

MOYA: That scar was from, actually, the first time that I got shot which was five times.

COOPER: So you've been shot six times total?

MOYA: Yes.

COOPER: Wow. So you're 32 years old?

MOYA: Thirty-two years old.

COOPER: And you've been shot six times?

MOYA: Six times.

COOPER: Does that make you really lucky or really unlucky?

MOYA: I would say for the fact unlucky that I have to deal with the pain, but lucky that I'm alive today.

COOPER (voice-over): Moya's alive today, thanks in large part to this man.

BOYLE: Are you on probation or parole?

COOPER: Father Greg Boyle.

BOYLE: You are?

COOPER: We first met Father Boyle five years ago at Homeboy Industries, a company he started that helps young men transition out of gang life.

(on camera): I remember something you said to me five years ago that I've repeated to so many people I can't even count, which was that I asked you if you ever felt taken advantaged of. Do people take advantage of you? And you said that you give your advantage away. I think that's a great -- I sure use that in my own life.

BOYLE: I think people are always kind of cynical about they don't want to be used. And that happens if you're -- if you're kind of stingy about what you have, rather than live in a way that's more abundant and where you're giving your advantage all the time. This place wants to give its advantage, wants to give its resources.

COOPER (voice-over): Homeboy Industries offers troubled young men counseling and job training. They have a host of social programs, even including gang tattoo removal.

In the last five years, Father Boyle has expanded Homeboy Industries into a multimillion-dollar facility near downtown Los Angeles. It's allowed him to reach out to more young people at risk.

BOYLE: OK. All right.

COOPER (on camera): And do you still never write anybody off?

BOYLE: Yes, I think this place is soaked with a sense of redemption, so you really -- because I found --

COOPER: It's soaked with a sense of redemption?

BOYLE: Redemption -- it really is soaked with it.

I have several of them, who not that you write off, but in your head you toy with the idea that "I'm not sure he's ever going to be able to steer this thing in another direction," and lo and behold, they do.

COOPER (voice-over): Richard Moya started heading the wrong direction from the time he was young.

MOYA: My dad was in a gang, and I witnessed and encountered his murder right in front of me at 5 years old.

COOPER (on camera): He was shot to death in front of you?

MOYA: Shot to death by a rival gang.

COOPER: Do you remember it?

MOYA: I remember it to -- to this day. He was shot exiting our house, getting into the car. And when we were waiting for him to exit the house another person approached and shot him straight in his forehead.

COOPER (voice-over): Seeing his father die didn't stop Moya from getting involved with gangs. He joined one when he was 13.

When we first met Moya five years ago, he'd already been shot and in prison. Instead of writing Moya off, however, Father Boyle hired him.

MOYA: Good afternoon. Homeboy Industries, Richard speaking; how can I help you today?

COOPER (on camera): Is his struggle emblematic of the difficulties of getting out of gang life?

BOYLE: I think he's been out -- far out of gang life. He's also somebody who's been deeply traumatized in his own history, and it's difficult for -- for him to make long strides. He has to kind of do little short hops.

COOPER (voice-over): Those short hops aren't easy. Moya has four sons he's not allowed to see and he struggles to earn a living every day, washing cars and recycling. Last year he barely survived that drive-by shooting.

Richard Moya says he joined the gang for the same reasons so many others do: to earn respect. But now he says none of it makes sense any more.

MOYA: People used to go around and get respect because you either boxed somebody or you stabbed that person, bottom line. Ten of your homeboys meet ten of our homeboys. Let's go, right now at the park, ese (ph). And that's it. You got your respect.

Hey, watch out for that bad boy, man. He can really swing them. Watch out for that guy, dog. He'll really stab you. That's the respect.

COOPER: Seeking that kind of respect, however, led him to prison

MOYA: What made me actually just stop ganging -- gangbanging completely is you have gangsters that were your enemies that you used to shoot or stab or box or fight, and those are the people that are your Sallys (ph). Those are the people that got your back in prison when you're doing a term.

And if you could become buddies like that in there and forgive and all that, why can't I forgive the person that shot me?

BOYLE: How are you doing?

MOYA: Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.

COOPER: Forgiveness instead of revenge. That's precisely why Father Boyle is convinced that long-term treatment at Homeboy Industries is a worthy investment. A model, he says, that saves thousands of lives.

(on camera): That's what gang life is, a result of a lethal absence of hope?

BOYLE: It's about a lethal absence of hope because that's fundamentally where this rests always.

COOPER (voice-over): Curtailing gangs means replacing that absence with hope. It's that simple and that complicated, says Boyle.

(on camera): Do you think you'll make it to 40? MOYA: You know that's a good question. And I'll tell you right now, I see a lot of people that makes me admire them to see their age at 40. I can make no promises, but the only thing is I hope my sons see me before 40. I really do.


COOPER: Stopping the spread of gang violence across the country has been a high priority for federal law enforcement. Instead of just targeting individual gang members, federal officials are now working closer with local agencies to try to target entire gangs just as they did with the Mafia some 35 years ago.

I'm Anderson cooper. Thanks very much for watching "Gangs of Hollenbeck."


ROMANS: "LARRY KING LIVE" begins in a moment.

First the "360 Bulletin".

NBA player Gilbert Arenas has avoided jail time for illegally bringing guns into his team's locker room last December. Instead, a judge sentenced the Washington Wizards player to 30 days in a halfway house, two years of probation, and 400 hours of community service.

A "360 Follow": a mix of fire and ice has become a big tourist attraction in Iceland. With a volcano erupting, people are taking advantage of bus tours and hiking trails to get a better view of the lava. The volcano blast last weekend initially forced hundreds from their home but residents were allowed to return when officials said the danger was over.

The White House party crashers have scored a reality TV show. Michaela and Tariq Salahi will be part of a Bravo TV upcoming new series "Real Housewives of D.C." The couple has denied crashing the state dinner last fall but they have never shown a written invitation and it doesn't look like they'll be prosecuted.

And Holy Hogwarts. Harry Potter's famous invisibility cloak mentioned in the movies and books is one step closer to reality. Using a structure that bends light, scientists in Germany have successful hidden a tiny bump in a layer of gold. Unfortunately, developing a cloak takes a very long time, keeping it safe from Muggles everywhere, at least for now.

Those are the headlines.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.