New gang injunction sought :Southside Chiques is DA’s next target

New gang injunction sought :Southside Chiques is DA’s next target

By Raul Hernandez,
July 29, 2006

The district attorney on Friday filed another gang injunction — this one against the Southside Chiques, the second largest criminal street gang in Oxnard whose members are responsible for at least 17 homicides in the past 13 years, authorities said.

The city’s first gang injunction was aimed at the Colonia Chiques gang in 2004.

Prosecutors said the Southside Chiques gang members have been responsible for three homicides in Port Hueneme since 2004. Gang members have been victims or suspects in nine homicides in Oxnard.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O’Neill Jr. will hold a preliminary hearing on the gang injunction Sept. 18.

Some Oxnard politicians said a second gang injunction is needed because of a recent rise in gang violence, including last month’s gang-related slaying of a 19-year-old Ventura College student and Oxnard resident.

“I think it is absolutely needed,” said Oxnard Councilman Tim Flynn. “The first gang injunction has done an excellent job in curbing crime in Oxnard’s neighborhoods.”

Councilman John Zaragoza agreed: “I think it is very important that we stop this violence. We have seen a reduction with the current (Colonia Chiques) gang injunction.”

Some critics, however, argue that the new injunction, which is a civil lawsuit, will infringe upon the rights of people, especially Latinos who live in poor neighborhoods.

“Any broad, sweeping law has the danger of casting the net too widely. So it is important to look at each individual in each case,” said Westlake Village defense attorney John Pinnell. “I am concerned of any prior restraint. I think it is important — and makes more sense — to prosecute individuals who break the law instead of condemning a group for their associations.”

Public defender states concerns

“As a citizen and not just as criminal defense attorney, it is always dangerous to curtail the liberties of people as government policy, and I think this is what this injunction does,” said Public Defender David Hirsch, adding that he hopes this is “an incredibly well-crafted” legal document.

“So people’s rights aren’t infringed,” he said. “This is a slippery slope.”

Senior Deputy District Attorney Karen Wold defends the latest gang injunction, noting that the injunctions are legal tools that have been upheld by the California Supreme Court. She said the first injunction targeting Colonia Chiques street gang was upheld by the court of appeal.

The terms of the Southside Chiques gang injunction would be similar to the Colonia Chiques civil action, only it would cover a 4.26-square-mile safety zone, some of which overlaps the existing injunction zone, according to prosecutors.

The 2004 gang injunction against the Colonia Chiques gang forbids members from associating with each another in a 6.6-square-mile safety zone. They also cannot wear certain clothing; stay outside past 10 p.m.; use gang gestures, controlled substances or alcohol; or act as lookouts to warn of the presence of police.

Violations can bring fines, jail

Those who violate the civil injunction can be arrested for contempt of court and sent to jail for up to six months, fined as much as $1,000, or both.

The lawsuit seeks to keep the Southside Chiques from associating with each in the proposed safety zone and prohibits public drinking and possession of drugs and weapons.

Since the 2004 injunction was initiated, 135 people have been served with a notice of violation, 75 people have been arrested for violations, and five of them have proven they no longer commit criminal gang activity and are not subject to the injunction, Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach said recently.

Crombach couldn’t be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Wold said the violations range from possessing drugs or weapons to violating the gang-injunction curfew.

Southside Chiques, with 200 active members, is a rival of the Colonia Chiques. Southside Chiques also have been involved in many criminal incidents, including shootings, assaults, carjackings, robberies, homicides, weapons and drug violations and witness intimidation, authorities said.

Zaragoza said he hopes the latest gang injunction would help curb the rash of recent gang-related violence, especially in South Oxnard.

Boy killed at party

One of the latest gang-related homicides occurred in June. Adrian Pulido was killed when he attended a Saturday night party in Oxnard to honor the memory of Pete Reveles — an Oxnard College baseball player shot and killed a little more than a year ago. Detectives believe the suspect in the Reveles killing has gang ties. Before the party ended, Pulido was shot and killed by apparent gang members.

The 19-year-old Pulido, a Ventura College student and Oxnard resident, had no criminal record and no gang ties. Oxnard police said he was shot multiple times for no apparent reason at the party on South E and Hill streets.

Safety trumps image issues

Flynn and Zaragoza said they aren’t concerned whether the city of Oxnard gets a black eye because of a second gang injunction. Both said the city’s public image should take a backseat to the safety of residents, emphasizing that Oxnard is a safe and growing city — which, because of socioeconomic reasons, has more than its share of gang problems.

“I’d rather have a black eye and no homicides than create an image that we are a safe city,” said Zaragoza. “It is a quality-of-life issue.”

Flynn said there are some who will always believe that Oxnard is unsafe and a dangerous place.

“That is absolutely not true,” he said.

Flynn noted a 60 percent drop in crime in the past 18 months.

“I think it is very, very important that we stop gang violence and crime in the city of Oxnard,” said Zaragoza.

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