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Sweeps Target Gangs, Drunks and ‘Johns’

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles law enforcement agencies conducted three crime sweeps this weekend targeting gang members, drunk drivers and men who solicit acts of prostitution.

Gang-related shootings continued, despite more than 285 arrests by the police task force called “Operation Hammer.” Although 216 suspected gang members were arrested, four separate gang shootings accounted for six gunshot wound victims this weekend, police said.

The task force, introduced by police Chief Daryl F. Gates last year, has been conducting periodic sweeps on weekends in areas where gangs have been most active. The latest shooting occurred early Sunday just hours after the Operation Hammer task force ceased its operation.

An unidentified man was wounded in the head in a gang-related drive-by shooting in the El Sereno area east of downtown, Hollenbeck Division Sgt. George Spitzer said. The victim was standing near Edison Street and Monterey Road at about 5:30 a.m. when he was hit, Spitzer said. The man, whose name was not released, was treated at the scene by paramedics.

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Anonymous witnesses reported the gunman’s license plate number and about an hour later police arrested a suspect at Mission Road and Valley Boulevard and recovered the gun allegedly used in the shooting, Spitzer said. The suspect’s name was not available, police said.

In another weekend sweep, about 70 Los Angeles police and California Highway Patrol officers arrested more than 200 suspected drunk drivers in the downtown area and surrounding streets, Central Traffic Division Lt. Dan Hills said Sunday.

Arrestees were processed through the Police Department’s Immediate Booking and Release System, which allows officers to quickly return to patrol duties after detaining suspects. Arrestees with no outstanding warrants are held in two mobile buses that serve as temporary holding tanks until they are picked up by relatives.

In a third task force effort, 24 men were arrested Friday night and early Saturday for soliciting acts of prostitution on 7th Street between San Pedro Street and Central Avenue.

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The Newton Division “Trick” Task Force concentrated on arresting the male customers of prostitutes. The sting operation included six female police officers who stood on the sidewalk and--without provocation, police said--got solicitations from men in cars and pedestrians, authorities said.


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