Santa Cruz police target gang crime, make five arrests

By Jennifer Squires

Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted: 01/13/2009 07:45:44 AM PST

SANTA CRUZ — Gang investigators arrested five people suspected of possessing weapons or illegal drugs, and contacted numerous suspected gang members during a special enforcement Friday, Santa Cruz police reported.

The operation was in response to a recent increase in gang activity in the city, police said. In the most serious incident, a 22-year-old man was killed in a gang-related stabbing Jan. 2 on Soquel Avenue. Two teenagers, both suspected gang members, have been arrested and charged with murder.

Friday, police and county probation officers conducted probation searches, served arrest warrants and searched for suspected gang members downtown, in the beach area and in the lower Ocean Street area, according to police.

On Pacific Avenue and Laurel Street, police arrested Ivan Quiroz Bastidas, 29, a documented gang member from Santa Cruz. Bastidas had a .22-caliber handgun, methamphetamine, a knife and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle, according to police. He was arrested on drug and weapons charges, and booked into County Jail on $25,000 bail.

Esteban Lopez, 18, of Santa Cruz was arrested on Chestnut Street on several drug charges. Police said he is also a suspected gang member.

On lower Ocean Street, police arrested Todd Jones, 52, of Santa Cruz for an alleged probation violation and extensive narcotics violations. Monica Victoria Mendoza of Campbell was also arrested on Ocean Street. Mendoza, 19, was arrested for a felony drug warrant and booked into

County Jail on $60,000 bail, police said.

The fifth arrest was for a misdemeanor drug warrant, police reported.

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