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ANTI-GANG TEAM PUT ON STREET : SQUAD PATROLLING A.V. TO CURB RISING VIOLENCE.

Byline: Bhavna Mistry Daily News Staff Writer

A special anti-gang team has been assigned to the Antelope Valley to tackle a growing gang problem, including a string of homicides in 1996, sheriff's officials said Tuesday.

The Gang Enforcement Team was brought in to combat a growing number of gangs and members as well as increased gang-related crime in the past five years. Gang violence claimed 10 lives in the past year in the area.

``Gang activity was apparent and frequent enough to warrant the fielding of a GET team locally,'' said Lt. Ron Shreves. ``We saw gang-related murders and increased gang activity in our parks.''

In March, two gang members were shot several times outside a Lancaster apartment complex, a known drug hangout plagued with gang violence. Officials said the shooting was retaliatory.

Later in March, an 18-year-old was stabbed to death in Lancaster at a birthday party in a fight that involved rival gangs.

In June, two men were gunned down at a graduation party in Palmdale. Then in July, rival gang members killed a 15-year-old boy in July at a party near the California Aqueduct.

The violence continued through the end of the year with victims ranging in age up to 49. Drugs often were the motive, sheriff's deputies said. Still, gang-related crime is not as high as in the greater Los Angeles area.

``We have more gang activity than we did five years ago, but compared to the other side of the mountain we have fewer incidents,'' Shreves said. ``We hope to keep it that way.''

The anti-gang team is made up of six deputies and a sergeant.

``We're thrilled to have them here,'' said Lt. Ron Shreves. ``It's a great benefit to us.''

Members of the team are experts in identifying gang members and are working on identifying all active gangs and gang members in the Antelope Valley.

``We have between 2,300 and 3,000 gang members in the Antelope Valley area,'' said Shreves. ``It's difficult to track them, but we pretty much know who they are.''

Officials said that the anti-gang force will patrol areas frequented by gangs. Sometimes they will work in plain clothes, officials said.

``The best way for us to solve a crime is for us to know who our gang members and their associates are,'' Shreves said. ``With help from some witnesses and getting a moniker, we can go far.''

Since anti-gang team members came to the area three months ago, they have made more than 100 arrests and confiscated a dozen weapons, sheriff's records show.

``These are the places that we wanted to make an impact,'' Shreves said. ``And we've seen some progress.''

Gang deputies focus their efforts on gang haunts until its members relocate, Shreves said. Some problem areas include Curson, Eastside and Lake Los Angeles parks.

``The park is no longer their territory,'' said Shreves, adding that gangs intimidated those in the park. ``The gangs don't disappear, but they're no longer in our parks.''

Sgt. Richard Gurr, who heads up the localized anti-gang team, is working on a two-tier system focusing his long-term gang members and as well as their recruits.

``We try and put enough pressure on them,'' said Gurr. ``We target the younger groups, show them it's not a fun way to go and hopefully persuade them to get out.''

Gurr, a 16-year deputy, said that gang members have changed from protecting their neighborhoods to protecting their narcotics sales territory.

GANG RELATED MURDERS IN 1996

MARCH 1 - Tyrone Overstreet, 19, and Jerek Armstrong, 18, were shot to death outside an apartment building in the 300 block of East Avenue H-14. Possible motives: robbery, drug deal gone bad, or retaliation for 1994 killing.

MARCH 9 - Jeffery Crowther, 18, of Lancaster was stabbed to death during a party on East Avenue J-4. Officials said Crowther was killed by another partygoer who acted in self-defense after a fight broke out between rival gangs.

JUNE 15 - Stanley Benson, 20, and Tony Darnell Suluki, 21, both of Palmdale, were fatally wounded during a shootout at a graduation party at the 3500 block of Avenue R-12 after one gang confronted another.

JULY 29 - Serafin Herrera, 15, was killed during an exchange of gunfire at a party in a field near the California Aqueduct.

OCT. 5 - James Beaudoin, 49, a McDonnell Douglas machinist, was shot twice in the head about 9:15 p.m. outside his house after taking out the trash.

OCT. 31 - Roger Zuno Arciga, 26, of Lancaster was found partially buried in a vacant field after being bound, gagged and shot in the head along Division Street north of Avenue F.

SEPT. 20 - James May, 28, was found bound, gagged and shot to death in his Lancaster home shortly after 1 a.m. in a slaying investigators say is linked to narcotics.

NOV. 9 - Darrell Clay Jr., 15, was reported missing by his grandmother two days before he was found shot to death in a vacant warehouse on 10th Street West. Investigators say the shooting may be gang- and drug-related.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jan 22, 1997
Words:852
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