By some estimates there are as many as 400 members of the Denver Lanes street gang living in Pasadena.
A blood gang that probably originated in Los Angeles, PDL is often responsible for much of the violence that occurs in Northwest Pasadena.
Needless to say, the streets, apartments and housing projects PDL claims as its turf don’t often make New Year’s Day television broadcasts highlighting the wonders of the Rose City.
Neither does much of the rest of the city north of the 210 Freeway for that matter. Where turf is claimed by gangs like the Pasadena Latin Kings, the Raymond Avenue Crips, Northside Pasadena, the Villa Boyz, Varrio Pasadena Rifa, the Summit Street Smokers, Pepper Street, Squiggly Lane and the Project Gangsters.
Some wear red like the Bloods. Some wear blue like the Crips. Others, like the Project Gangsters, simply wear black.
On a summer day in the Northwest, families sweltering in cramped apartments seek refuge on rickety balconies. A cop drives by in an unmarked car and gets mad-dogged by an old woman who mouths obscenities before flipping the bird.
Down the road on Orange Grove Boulevard, the passenger in a car traveling the opposite direction hangs out the window and contorts his hand into an unmistakable gang sign.
On Howard Street, a group of young men shoot craps as they banter with the cop about the neighborhood.
Outside a Washington Boulevard apartment complex, a guy once named in an
injunction against the PDL gang tells the cop his brother will be “out in a minute.” In other words, his brother is doing prison time and probably has two or three years to go before he’s eligible for parole.
On another street the cop points out the luxury Lexus that belongs to the PDL’s shot-caller. Near Robinson Road, he points out a yellow mansion with exterior spiral staircases and white trim. It’s surrounded by a 6-foot-high, wrought-iron fence.
“They shoot pornos there,” he says. “Or at least they used to.”
Up on Woodbury, the detective talks to a young girl about her family. She says many of her relatives are unavailable. But, “They’ll be back in a minute.”
Elsewhere drug deals go down in alleyways and driveways. The sight of a white, unmarked patrol car sends the actors scurrying in various directions.
Up the road, a “basehead” looks lost standing outside an abandoned house. A couple of doors down three generations of a family that’s well-known to cops in Northwest Pasadena gathers on their front lawn and driveway.
Most everywhere the detective gets stares and dirty looks.
Somehow the neighborhood has been a breeding ground for violence and bad behavior for as long as most remember. This is where gangs like PDL thrive.
“The gangs are constantly struggling for power in the community,” Pasadena police Detective Kevin Gomez recently explained in a preliminary hearing for Dwayne Rice and Charles Wetstone, a pair of PDLs accused in the execution murder of Squiggly Lane rival David Crosby.
“The larger the territory, the more opportunities for the gang,” he continued.