Officers seek to arrest some 200 suspects(Vegas)

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Officers seek to arrest some 200 suspects(Vegas)

Unread post by MOMO » April 16th, 2004, 10:34 am

Officers seek to arrest some 200 suspects


Las Vegas police officer D. Hunkins escorts a member of the Valley View Gangster Crips known as "Box Dog" into a car Friday.
Photo by Clint Karlsen. ... rants1.jpg

Local law enforcement agencies launched an aggressive sweep against Southern Nevada street gangs Friday, issuing arrest warrants for more than 200 members wanted for everything from attempted murder to probation violations.

"This is the result of the increase in gang violence since January," said Las Vegas police Capt. Gary Schofield, head of the Gang Crimes Bureau. "It's our effort to send a message to the gang members that violent crime won't be tolerated."

A force of 60 officers arrested 10 of the wanted gang members Friday, Sgt. Pete Boffelli said. The team will continue tracking down gang members today, and officers from the Gang Crimes Bureau will resume the task Monday.

There have been 54 gang-related shootings since Jan. 1 in Las Vegas and unincorporated areas of Clark County, six of which resulted in homicides, Schofield said. That was on the heels of a 13 percent increase in crime in 2003.

Friday's crackdown, which was targeted at the feuding Crips and Bloods street gangs, is just the first of several offenses police agencies plan to unleash on gangs in the weeks ahead, authorities said.

Schofield said Friday's dragnet involves predominantly black gangs, but police plan next to go after Hispanic gangs active in other neighborhoods around the Las Vegas Valley.

Robert Fowler, pastor of the Victory Mission Baptist Church in West Las Vegas, applauded police for trying to make the streets safer for children and families.

However, he said, it's imperative that law enforcement also bring Hispanic, Asian and white gangs to justice.

"The notion that we are going to clean up crime in Las Vegas by spanking the African-American children that belong to us and not have parity with all the other children, is not a reasonable way to operate," Fowler said. "The reason we need fair play is because what they (police) are supposed to be executing is justice. If it is not fair, it is not justice. It is prejudice."

Neither Schofield nor Sheriff Bill Young could be reached for comment late Friday to respond to Fowler's comments.

North Las Vegas police, the U.S. Marshal's office and the state Division of Parole and Probation are working with Las Vegas police.

About 20 of the warrants were served on known gang members who authorities believe have violated parole or probation or who reside in North Las Vegas, said David Sonner, district director for Parole and Probation.

The remaining 187 targeted gang members are known to reside in the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Parents in West Las Vegas, areas of the northeast Las Vegas Valley and elsewhere are so worried that their children might be caught in the crossfire of gang shootings that they don't let them play in the street or go to parks in their neighborhoods, Schofield said.

Schofield also said gang members reportedly have threatened witnesses involved in a case in District Court.

Schofield didn't specify the case. However, two suspected gang members were ordered this week to stand trial in the November shooting death of 13-year-old Tanisha Turner. She was caught in what authorities described as the crossfire of a gang shooting.

Two eyewitnesses failed to testify April 1 at a preliminary hearing. One disappeared and the other was too ill to come to court, authorities said.

"The cycle of violence has to stop," Schofield said. "This is the first of many messages to gang members that their activities won't be tolerated. ... If you use a gun, if you are on probation and violate the law, we are going to do everything we can to arrest you."

The wanted gang members have roots in Southern California, Northern California and Midwestern cities such Chicago and Detroit, said Lt. Lew Roberts of the Gang Crimes Bureau.

Echoing Young, Schofield said Las Vegas police officers are stretched thin in the fight against crime. The number of officers in the city of Las Vegas and Clark County isn't keeping pace with the estimated 6,000 new people who move to Las Vegas each month, he said.

For instance, the Southern Highlands area in the southwest Las Vegas Valley, which includes thousands of homes, wasn't constructed five years ago. Meanwhile, the number of officers stationed in that area hasn't increased in that time, Schofield said.

On a typical Friday night, there are only 10 detectives assigned to the Gang Crimes Bureau's enforcement division, Schofield said.

The last large gang sweep by authorities in Las Vegas came in August, when a federal racketeering indictment charged 21 men with drug trafficking, murder and other charges.

Authorities said the men were members of the Rolling 60s Crips, a gang that used violence and extortion to rule drug turf in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. The case was pending in U.S. District Court.

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