West Coast gang members robbing northeast Ohio banks

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio – Action News' Paul Orlousky has learned that members of the Los Angeles-based gang called the "Bloods" are on the move from California to northeast Ohio.

The thugs are moving to Greater Cleveland and robbing area banks using a whole lot of violence to get what they want -- a whole lot of cash.

It was a story that you could have only seen on Action News.

The number of bank robberies in northeast Ohio is up. Most branches that have been hit, like the Third Federal Bank on Lorain Road in North Olmsted, are in-and-out jobs. The robber just delivered a note demanding cash and off he went.

Bank photographs prove that violence was the group's hallmark. The photos show the gang members leaping over counters, forcing people onto the ground and frightening their victims into compliance. They also show them entering banks with guns and leaving with bags of cash.

L.A. came to Cleveland in more ways than one. The gang members' tactics were identical to those seen in the Hollywood movie "Heat." West Coast gang members with names like Knockout, Lazy D, Bop and Maniac injured eight customers and employees of Cleveland-area banks.

"Right now, I want you to sit on the floor and put your heads down," they could be heard screaming on surveillance video.

Federal documents obtained by Action News said that the gang members came from California to Cleveland and set up operations on Hulda Avenue for the sole purpose of plotting and planning how to hit local banks.

"These are very dangerous men we're involved with," FBI special agent Bob Hawk said.

The group got into a shootout with Euclid Police during one of their final area heists, but most of the suspects got away. One of the men, however, was caught and that helped police get closer to breaking the case.

They finally did crack the case and were able to get guilty pleas that will keep the bad guys in jail for as long as 23 years.

Police said that the gang was hard to trace because they would steal a car, drive it to get away and then get into the back of a U-Haul truck to be driven out of town. They would return after a few weeks to rob again.

The gang members said that they thought it was easier to rob banks in Cleveland than it was in L.A. Law enforcement officers hope that their incarceration proved their theory wrong.