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VALLEY GANG SWEEP NETS SUSPECTS IN 3 SLAYINGS.

Byline: Jaxon Van Derbeken Daily News Staff Writer

A police task force targeting a notorious gang has made four arrests in connection with a Van Nuys double murder and a killing last summer in the west San Fernando Valley, authorities said Friday.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, 40 investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department raided apartments in Sylmar and Reseda and homes in Glendale, Van Nuys and Mission Hills seeking members of the Asian Boys gang.

The authorities took 23 people into custody as part of the raid and arrested six of them on felony charges - four for murder and two for attempted murder.

Among those arrested on suspicion of murder was Truong Dinh, 20, who previously had been arrested and released in connection with a shootout last summer that left a Canoga Park man dead, police said.

Also arrested on suspicion of murder were three suspects in a Cambodian ``Tet'' New Year slaying last spring: Marvin Mercato, 22, and his brother, Pierre Mercato, 21, and David Evangelista, 21.

Two 16-year-olds were arrested and booked on suspicion of attempted murder, but police refused to specify which crime they were being held for.

``We have been investigating this Asian gang for a series of gang homicides, shootings and home invasion robberies,'' said Lt. Fred Tuller, who supervises the investigation.

Deputy Chief Martin Pomeroy said the gang has been tied to ``five or more murders in the San Fernando Valley,'' but said one obstacle to the investigation has been the ``very cohesive'' nature of the gang involved.

``This is a particularly violent group of individuals,'' Pomeroy said. ``They are involved in murders, robberies and other assaults.

``They don't talk much outside themselves, so it's difficult to get information about them - you have to make the case on circumstantial evidence, and physical evidence and logical deduction,'' he said.

Tuller, who oversees the Valley's anti-gang effort, said the gang accounted for five of the area's 55 gang-related homicides in 1995.

The gang has been tied to a string of 11 murders countywide - including a triple slaying in El Monte and an April 14, 1995, double homicide in Van Nuys committed on the day of ``Tet,'' or New Year in Southeast Asia.

There also have been at least three gang-related killings elsewhere in the Valley, two in the West Valley and one in Mission Hills.

Those arrested Thursday were tied either to one of the West Valley murders or to the Van Nuys double homicide.

Authorities said the Van Nuys shooting stemmed from a simmering feud between the Asian gang and a Latino group and the shooting was touched off in a dispute over a female.

Armando Estrada, 19, and Miguel Limon, also known as Jesus ``Horsy'' Hernandez, 26, died in the melee at the intersection of Valerio Street and Sylmar Avenue, police said.

The Mission Hills slaying tied to the gang claimed the life of Oscar Palis of Arleta, who was four days short of his 18th birthday when he was shot after suspects drove alongside a car he was riding in after a visit to a local arcade.

Detective Troy Shin of the LAPD's Asian crimes detail said Palis was not believed to be a gang member, but ``was just with his friends and on his way home.''

Two other 1995 killings in the West Valley have been tied to the gang, including a July 23 shootout that left a Canoga Park man dead.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 1, 1996
Words:572
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