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750 Gang Members Arrested in 2-Night Sweeps

Times Staff Writer

More than 750 suspected gang members were arrested on various charges during the weekend as 1,000 Los Angeles police officers conducted the second major show of force this year against escalating gang violence.

Police reported 1,524 arrests, including both gang members and others, in the citywide patrols Friday and Saturday nights. The figures were comparable to the LAPD’s last major anti-gang offensive in early April, which was carried out in response to a wave of gang killings.

The city’s gang death toll had risen to 96 by the end of May, a 20% increase in the number of gang-related murders over the same period last year. Throughout Los Angeles County, 138 people have been killed in gang shootings so far this year, law enforcement officials have reported.

Smaller sweeps, involving 150 to 250 officers, have been regularly staged in recent months and police say they will continue the larger sweeps. “We will do it as often as we can, as often as we think it will be productive and effective,” police spokesman Cmdr. William Booth said Sunday.

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Juggled Days Off

Rather than paying overtime to muster the manpower, the department juggled days off so that the officers were all scheduled to work Friday and Saturday.

The suspects were arrested on charges that included drug and weapons possession and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Police stopped thousands of people during patrols, questioning nearly 600 individuals in one night alone in the South Bureau, covering the area south of the Santa Monica Freeway to the Harbor area.

The greatest number of officers--500--were deployed in the South Bureau. Two hundred officers were assigned to the Central Bureau and 150 each to the Valley and West bureaus.

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The South Bureau reported the largest number of arrests Saturday night, including 158 gang members. Police in the Valley made 45 gang arrests Saturday night, while Central area police reported 103 gang-related arrests. Figures for Saturday were not available from the West Bureau.

One weekend slaying in Los Angeles was attributed to gang violence, the Friday night drive-by shooting of 20-year-old David Meza on a street corner in the Rampart area. Police said they had no suspects in the case.


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