Social Media And a Manhunt For a Suspected Cop Killer

Police roadblock during manhunt. Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Roadblock during manhunt. Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

I was headed to the newsroom when the story broke: Fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner had been in a shootout with law enforcement officers in the snow-covered mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

INTERVIEW: I talk to Poynter Institute about Twitter and Dorner manhunt

The ex-LAPD officer had been accused of killing three people, including a police officer. A second law enforcement officer would be mortally wounded in a raging gun battle that would soon erupt after Dorner fled the shootout and barricaded himself inside a mountainside cabin.

It was a huge story that illustrated how social media has revolutionized the way we gather and share information.

Read more

Spread of An International Street Gang

MS-13 gang member arrested in El Salvador. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

MS-13 gang member arrested in El Salvador. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

This gritty multimedia project took me across the United States and into Mexico and Central America. We showed how a U.S. immigration policy of deporting “criminal aliens” backfired with members of the Mara Salvatrucha, spreading what was once a Los Angeles gang across six countries and 33 states.

VIDEOS: Gang Spreads Across U.S. and Central America

We captured original video footage inside a prison in El Salvador and interviewed gang members, law enforcement officials, victims and intervention workers for this eight-month-long project. Here’s the link to the entire series.

PHOTOS: MS-13 Gang in U.S. and El Salvador

Crime, Corruption on U.S.-Mexico Line

Mexican police

This investigation took me into the underworld of human smuggling, organized crime and narco-trafficking in the badlands east of Tijuana. The area was controlled by the ruthless Arellano-Felix drug cartel. My colleagues and I investigated the Mexican smuggling village of Jacume and the corrupt law enforcement officials who allowed the crime to flourish. Known as a “black hole” of crime and corruption, the village sits high on a ridge overlooking the U.S. border and eastern San Diego County. We obtained confidential law enforcement documents and interviewed residents, smugglers and U.S. and Mexican authorities for a look at the inner-workings of an operation largely beyond the control of law enforcement. Here’s a link the article and here’s a link to a great Luis Sinco photo gallery of images shot during our investigation.

(Photo Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Affluence, Homelessness Collide In Venice

I produced this 2009 video and article while investigating a proposal to ban overnight parking in Venice, an affluent beach community in Los Angeles. The proposal, ultimately rejected by the state Coastal Commission, would have prevented people from sleeping in their vehicles. In recent years, Venice has become a magnet for people who live in their vans, cars, RVs and campers. The issue has been divisive and controversial. This story was ideally suited for video, allowing viewers to see the situation for themselves and meet people on both sides of the controversy.

Illegal Dumping Plagues L.A. Neighborhoods

This 2008 video, along with the article I wrote, shocked many of our viewers. Armed with my camera, I documented how alleys in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods were filled with trash, festering for up to six weeks before being cleaned by city crews. The refuse included household garbage and construction rubble, as well as dead dogs and roosters. I also produced an interactive map with embedded video content showing arrest locations, illegal-dumping hot stops and problem alleys.

 Read more

Councilman Used Cocaine With Contractor

This 1998 piece was one of many stories that another reporter and I produced as part of a two-year series of articles investigating alleged corruption by former L.A. Councilman Richard Alatorre. We reported how he engaged in alleged bank fraud, showed up with wads of $100 bills after meeting with businessmen in his district and, in this piece, how he used cocaine with a contractor he supported for taxpayer-funded work. Alatorre later tested positive for cocaine in an unrelated child-custody case and was convicted in federal court for failing to declare income. The federal probe was sparked by our stories.

Read more