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TWO ARRESTED IN STAKEOUT OFFICERS SENT TO 60 OF 100 MEXICAN VALLEY EATERIES.

Byline: Lisa Van Proyen Staff Writer

VAN NUYS - In an unusual effort to stop a rash of robberies, about 100 police officers staked out Mexican restaurants across the San Fernando Valley early Friday and arrested two men.

Jose Alarcon, 18, of North Hollywood and Jose Ramirez, 25, of Sun Valley were arrested on suspicion of multiple armed robberies and are accused of holding up 22 Mexican restaurants in the Valley within the past three weeks, police said. Detectives are looking for a third suspect.

``They were terrorizing this side of the city,'' said Los Angeles Police Lt. Gary Nanson of the Valley Bureau.

Nanson helped organize a surveillance team of about 100 patrol, anti- gang and Metro officers. Mapping out robberies, they tried to anticipate the next heists and set up surveillance at 60 of 100 restaurants in the Valley.

And it worked, he said. ``It really opened up everyone's eyes that it's very important to cross divisional lines and work together in areas that historically have worked independently of one another.''

Robbers struck at a restaurant where police were not waiting, but officers caught the pair at another in Van Nuys, Nanson said. The gunmen fled from Socorro's Mexican Restaurant, but were arrested after crashing in the 14700 block of Keswick Street, Nanson said.

Socorro Velez, owner of Socorro's Mexican restaurants in Van Nuys said she was hit twice by the thieves at each of her two restaurants.

The first hit was Sunday when robbers took about $1,000 from Socorro's at Victory Boulevard and Cedros Avenue, and then Thursday in the 14800 block of Sherman Way when they fled with $600.

Velez said she and her employees were horrified as they were forced to the floor at gunpoint. ``We were really scared.''

Nobody has been hurt during the takeovers, detectives said.

``They rip off the customers too - taking rings, watches. They're just real scavengers,'' said Lt. Jim Grayson of the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Section.

- Staff Writer Dominic Berbeo contributed to this story.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 15, 2000
Words:333
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