They started trickling into the Washington-Baltimore area last summer for the first time, a few tough, silent men from California with cash, weapons, beepers, gold jewelry. And drugs. They were Crips, members of one of Los Angeles' most notorious and violence-prone street gangs. Their arrival triggered alarm among federal investigators, stunned that the group had penetrated the East Coast. Once tipped to it, agents arrested two members last September, seized weapons, cash and cocaine and ultimately gained convictions and prison sentences against both this spring. Are there still more Crips out there? Yes, but agents and prosecutors will give only scanty details, citing confidentiality of an investigation. They allude only to "continued activity" by the Crips and possibly an archrival Los Angeles gang called the Bloods. A big problem, says Harvey Eisenberg, a federal prosecutor in Baltimore, is that they are hard to track. "They use aliases and pay for almost everything in cash," he said. "There's no paper trail." One of the two members recently convicted, for example, bought four guns, including a Colt AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, using an alias. He also bought an expensive British-made Range Rover vehicle, driving it more than 33,000 miles in three months. "He was going back and forth to California, getting more cocaine and crack," Eisenberg said. Federal agents described the operation as an attempt to bring a new dimension to drug trafficking here, a flow of cocaine and cocaine-based crack from the West Coast to compete with the established supply lines of narcotics from Miami and New York. Agents say the Crips and the Bloods have been gradually expanding their activities to other midwestern and East Coast cities. As for Washington and Baltimore, Eisenberg said there is "still Crip and/or Blood activity." He would not characterize the activity except to say, "They seem to want to have a lot of guns around. "There is a substantial ongoing investigation," said Eisenberg, who heads the Organized Crime Enforcement Drug Task Force for the Mid-Atlantic Region in Baltimore, a consortium of federal prosecutors and agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other agencies. "The Crips or people related to the Crips are very much aware of our focus on their activities," Eisenberg said. The Los Angeles gangs are of special concern to federal agents because of their reputation for violence and the potential for turf wars with established drug traffickers here if the West Coast groups decide to move in in substantial numbers. In Los Angeles, where the Crips and the Bloods are reputed to have up to 10,000 members each, the gangs have been feuding for years over drug territory and customers, with hundreds of fatal shootings each year. Most recently in this area, Crips member Armando Eugene Mines, 25, was sentenced to 13 years and one month in prison by U.S. District Judge Herbert F. Murray in Baltimore on drug and gun charges. When he was arrested in September, agents said they seized from his apartment and car an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a 9mm Excam semiautomatic pistol, a .44-caliber Charter Arms revolver and a Ruger 7.62-caliber semiautomatic rifle: all expensive weapons purchased at Maryland gun shops by Mines using his brother's name as an alias. In addition, agents said they seized $10,000 in cash along with a quantity of cocaine. They estimated that he spent $50,000 on jewelry and $3,000 on furniture for his apartment, all in cash, during the three months he lived in the area before his arrest. In the same time, according to agents and Eisenberg, Mines bought a Saab automobile with a $20,000 cash payment, then traded it for a Range Rover and drove the Range Rover repeatedly to California and back. When he was arrested and searched, agents discovered tattoos on Mines's body linking him to the Crips. On his left forearm were the words "Compton Crip," a reference to one of the subgroups of the organization, agents said. Tattooed on his stomach and the back of his neck were the initials SBC, designating another subgroup called the Santana Block Crips, according to agents. Another reputed gang member, Roy David Summers, 23, identified in court affidavits as a Crip, was convicted and sentenced this year to 20 years' imprisonment by a federal judge in Alexandria on various drug and weapon charges.