Feds Crack Down On Gang Violence In Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ (KCBS) – A five-month long federal investigation that targeted gangs in Santa Cruz has taken several dozen suspected gang members off the streets and secured their arrests. Operation Southern Exposure has been a success, according to police.

The program began in May when Santa Cruz Police Chief Howard Skerry asked for help from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the DEA to help deal with a surge in brazen street violence, including the slaying of two teenagers that crossed paths with suspected gang members.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

“We have a problem in our community; we’re not going to stand for this anymore. The community is outraged by what’s going on as is law enforcement,” said Skerry, the former police chief who retired September 1st.

On Thursday, police announced the results of their efforts which included the arrest of 42 suspected Sureno and MS-13 gang members, plus the seizure of 10 handguns and a variety of illegal drugs including nearly 4,000 pills of ecstasy.

Police say they are thrilled with their federal partnership and expect it to continue under the guidance of Interim Chief Kevin Vogel.

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