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Gang Member Gets Extra 3 Years Under Terrorism Law

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gang member Rafael Gamez, the first person in Orange County to be found guilty of attempted murder in connection with the state’s street terrorism act, was sentenced Friday to more than 25 years in prison.

Under the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention law, West Orange County Superior Court Judge A. Luis Cardenas added three years to a 22-year, eight-month sentence he gave to 19-year-old Gamez.

The law was passed in September, 1988, in reaction to increasing gang violence. It allows judges to add from one to three years to the terms of those convicted of gang-related crimes and permits prosecutors to present trial evidence showing gang involvement.

On April 24, a jury found Gamez guilty of attempted murder, assault with a firearm and discharging a firearm in connection with an Aug. 31 drive-by shooting last year. Gamez had fired eight shots at a group of girls. One 16-year-old girl was shot in the back and is partially paralyzed in her right arm.

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Gamez apparently was shooting in retaliation for a drive-by attack that had taken place a few nights earlier.

During sentencing, Judge Cardenas called the shooting a “barbaric” and “savage” crime.

“The sentence is monumental because it shows gangs that they will be severely punished for their crimes,” said Santa Ana police gang investigator Don Schweitzer.


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