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Police Launch More Anti-Gang Sweeps; 661 Arrested 1st Night

After arresting hundreds of people Friday night, 1,000 Los Angeles police officers swept through gang-ridden neighborhoods again Saturday night in an effort to attack crime in the nation’s gang capital.

Friday night’s sweeps resulted in 661 arrests, about half of them in South-Central Los Angeles, where 500 of the officers were dispatched. Gang members accounted for 323 of the arrests, officials said. Police confiscated 76 vehicles, $3,334 in cash, 15 weapons and more than 330 grams of cocaine and marijuana.

“There were definitely a lot of rock-cocaine arrests, some arrests for possession of narcotics for sale, and there were numerous weapons confiscated, including an AK-47 assault rifle,” said Lt. Jim Tatreau.

Police also conducted sweeps on the Westside, the San Fernando Valley and central parts of the city. There were 147 arrests in the Valley, 105 on the Westside and 82 in the central area.

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One man died Friday night after he was shot while standing on a sidewalk on South Columbia Avenue near downtown, police said. David Meza, 20, died in surgery at County-USC Medical Center. The gunman and accomplices in the drive-by shooting were thought to be gang members, police said.

Police said late Saturday that they had just begun to compile statistics on the day’s arrests. By early evening, said Detective Tony Celli, a department spokesman, police had booked 63 people on suspicion of various offenses. Eleven were suspected gang members. Among those arrested was a suspect in an earlier killing, Celli added.

However, Celli added, “There are a lot of people (under arrest) . . . who are not booked yet.”

Earlier Saturday, police officials said that they consider the sweeps an effective way to intimidate gang members and reduce crime.

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“The operation has to be deemed a success, especially in the South-Central community,” said Cmdr. William Booth. “We have seen a reduction in crime in general as well as a reduction in gang crime” in that area, he said.

The weekend offensive was mounted after the LAPD reported that gang murders have risen 20% this year. Through May, 96 people died in gang-related killings in the city.

Since April, the police have launched at least a dozen anti-gang sweeps, but only one was as large as this weekend’s effort.


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