Deputies crack down on Pico Rivera tagging crew

Brian Day (Whittier Daily News) | September 29, 2010

PICO RIVERA – Authorities Wednesday went on the offensive, arresting five suspected members of a Pico Rivera tagging crew believed responsible for more than $200,000 worth of vandalism damage.

Deputies carried out a search warrant at nine homes in Pico Rivera to target 10 suspected members of the tagging crew, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Romo said. In addition to the arrests, deputies seized several pounds of marijuana, about $50,000 in suspected drug money and a handgun during the operation.

“They’ve been really causing problems for about a year,” the sergeant said of the group, estimated to have several dozen members. “They increased their activity over the past year.”

The group is suspected in about 600 separate incidents of tagging, primarily in Pico Rivera, totalling more than $200,000 in damage.

About 120 sheriff’s deputies and a handful of agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement searched the homes targeted in the warrant simultaneously at about 6 a.m., officials said. This tactic helps prevent those targeted in the searches from tipping each other off.

The operation was part of the Sheriff’s Department’s ongoing efforts to combat taggers and gang members, and similar efforts will continue in the future, Capt. James Thornton Jr. of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.

“The goal is to annihilate one gang, one tagging crew, at a time and move on to the rest,” Thornton said.

Deputies discovered a large amount of marijuana and hashish at one of the homes they searched in the 6700 block of Lemoran Avenue, Romo said. The exact weight of the pot wasn’t available, though the sergeant said it filled a potato sack.
About $50,000 in suspected proceeds from the drug trade were also seized.

Victor Romero, 41, was arrested at the Lemoran Avenue home on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales, officials said. Three children were taken into protective custody by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

Also jailed during the operation was Emilio Mata, 18, on suspicion of possession of stolen property; Johnathan Barbosa, 20, for an outstanding warrant and suspicion of lewd conduct with a minor; Joseph Franco, 18, on suspicion of possession of marijuana and vandalism; a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of possession of vandalism tools; and Kevin Tach, 21, on suspicion of possessing a handgun with the serial number filed off, officials said.

With the exception of Tach, all of those arrested Wednesday are suspected to have ties to the tagging crew, Romo said. Tach was stopped and arrested coincidentally as deputies were leaving from one of the searches.

All of those arrested are Pico Rivera residents, officials said.

Romo declined to name the tagging crew.

“All that does is give them notoriety,” he said, which is what taggers are after in the first place. “Being in a taggin crew, (notoriety) is what it’s all about.”

The group has not yet been officialy designated as a criminal street gang, Romo said. But like many other tagging crews, members have been becoming increasingly violent and are on the verge of becoming a traditional criminal street gang.

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1 Comment for “Deputies crack down on Pico Rivera tagging crew”

  1. Tarzana Varrio Jungle Flats XIII

    f#@$k LAPD and Mayates!

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