San Gabriel Valley Tribune

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Crackdown on gangs results in 40 arrests
40 arrested in crackdown on gangs

Sunday, May 18, 2003 –

DUARTE — A police crackdown on gang activity in an area where a star football player was shot coupled with increased cooperation from victims and witnesses has resulted in 40 arrests in two weeks, authorities said.

The increased police presence has been so intense that two of the area’s most notorious gang members have moved away and a third the shooter of football star Dennis Weathersby has been arrested, said Lt. Steve Biagini of the sheriff’s Temple Station. After a rash of drive-by-shootings, there hasn’t been an incident since April 22, he said.

The rivalry between the African-American gang Duroc Crips and the Latino gang Duarte Eastside has been a “historic’ problem, primarily in the county area between the cities of Duarte, Monrovia and Arcadia, authorities said.

The gangs have existed since the early ’80s, and officers said their battles ebb and flow in frequency and intensity. They’re motivated by turf wars, racial hatred and often by revenge, according to police.

The problem received national attention on April 20 when Weathersby, a star Oregon State defensive back and projected first round pick in the NFL draft, was shot outside the home of a known gang member in the 700 block of Meridian Street. Authorities said Weathersby, who grew up in the neighborhood, wasn’t a gang member, but an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of the gang war.

The bullet went through Weathersby’s back, narrowly missing his vital organs, and lodged in his arm, authorities said. Doctors estimated Weathersby would be able to play football as soon as six weeks after the shooting.

The NFL draft took place the weekend after the shooting and there was speculation that Weathersby’s injuries would hurt his draft status. Instead of being picked in an early round of the draft, which would have likely landed him a lucrative contract, Weathersby was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Weathersby’s shooting was the fourth gang-related shooting in as many weeks, a period which also included one homicide.

The sheriff’s department forcefully responded to the problem, Biagini said, increasing patrols and bringing in specialized units. The Monrovia and Irwindale police departments also joined the patrols, he said.

A key resource has been Probation Officer Frank Pallares, who now is based indefinitely at the sheriff’s Temple Station, Biagini said. Typically, adults on probation aren’t well monitored because there are only six officers in the county assigned to monitor them, Biagini said.

“These guys on adult probation are out there committing crimes and there’s no chance for the county officers to go get them,’ he said.

Pallares’ presence enables authorities to issue search warrants, and do condition and compliance searches to assure adults on probation comply with the conditions that allow them on the streets, Biagini said. Pallares’ scrutiny also revealed 25 more gang members living in the area, Biagini said.

The increased law enforcement presence is important, but residents assisting in investigations is vital, Biagini said. A previous frustration for sheriff’s authorities was a lack of participation from the community, but significant arrests have come recently because witnesses or victims stepped forward, Biagini said.

Two of the arrests took place April 29, including that of Juan Serna, 24, a Duarte Eastside gang member accused of shooting Weathersby. Serna was arrested after he was pointed out to authorities, which led to a search warrant, which yielded a bounty of weapons, including a Tech-9 submachine gun, handguns and a silencer, Biagini said.

“People were willing to come forward and tell us, ‘This is who did it, this is what happened,” Biagini said. “We were able to go out and make arrests in every case.’

Mary Barrow, spokeswoman for the city of Duarte, is encouraged by community involvement, she said.

“This is a major development and it shows that people are really upset and they’re heeding the call that they need to cooperate,’ Barrow said.

A community meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the gym at Pamela Park, 2236 Goodall Avenue. Local officials, including L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and Supervisor Michael Antonovich, will discuss the recent problems and possible solutions, Barrow said.

— Marshall Allen can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4461, or by e-mail at marshall.allen@sgvn.com.

Posted by on May 18 2003. Filed under Good Cop / Bad Cop, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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