Gang sweep nets 65 arrests

Most held in connection with felonies, including recent homicide attempt

last updated: December 29, 2008 11:35:54 PM

Local law enforcement agencies teamed up in December and arrested 65 people, most in connection with felonies and some who might have been involved in a recent attempted homicide, in a sweep aimed at suppressing gang activities in and around Modesto.

From Dec. 10 to Dec. 21, officers spoke with 230 people believed to have some connection with gangs in Stanislaus County, said Sgt. Brian Findlen of the Modesto Police Department.

Of the 65 arrested, 52 were in connection with felonies. Authorities issued 105 citations, towed 12 cars and recovered nine guns. Officers also conducted 81 probation and parole searches. On some days during the sweep, Findlen said, as many as 30 extra officers were on the street helping with the effort.

The arrests ranged from weapons violations to not complying with probation or parole terms to participating in drug transactions in view of officers.

“Gang members often operate in the shadows,” said Modesto police Sgt. Rick Armendariz, who supervises the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force and oversaw the sweep. “These types of operations put the spotlight on gang members. They let them know that law enforcement agencies are not going to tolerate gang activity and that agencies in this county are unified.”

Officers followed documented and suspected gang members, stopping them in their cars and on the streets to try to glean information about investigations and tensions between gangs, Armendariz said.

The operation was aimed at gang members ages 16 to 24, because that age group makes up the bulk of gang activity in the county, he said. Stanislaus County has more than 5,000 documented gang members or associates and more than 50 different gangs. Armendariz said there easily could be 8,000 to 10,000 more members in the county who are not documented.

The task force teamed up with other local law enforcement officers from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, the Ceres and Turlock police departments, the parole and probation departments, and the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office.

December’s sweep was one of the largest of the year. Smaller suppression efforts take place on a monthly basis, Armendariz said.

“We learn about new gangs, the current trends out in the street, and any conflict going on in any of the gangs,” he said. “It’s very beneficial for gathering criminal intelligence and new investigative leads, and preventing future shootings and assaults.”

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