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Gang Crackdown Pays Off In Watsonville

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WATSONVILLE (KCBS) – Aggressive police work and community involvement have led to a significant downturn in gang violence within the last 10 months, according to Watsonville Police.

In 2009, there were four gang-related homicides, versus none so far in 2010.

“We’ve carried out many large scale sweeps of gang members. Sometimes we take off a group of 40, 45 in large scale investigations, which we again feel has quelled some of the things going on,” declared Watsonville Police Chief Manny Solano.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Still, Watsonville was home to more than 550 gang members, mostly believed to be part of the Nortenos.

“Drugs are playing more and more of a part in the gang violence that we’re seeing. It’s not the sole driving force behind it, but a lot of times it is. Also, taxes being owed for payment to other higher ups in the gang to pay for their attorney fees is sometimes what drives some of these robberies.”

In 2010, more Watsonville police officers were assigned to gang suppression.

“It’s nonstop,” Solano described his department’s crackdown. “It’s ordered maintenance, it’s developing informants, it’s doing everything we can to try to prosecute these individuals that are doing most of the violence.”

He also credited better cooperation from the community.

“People stepping forward, people calling, people observing, reporting, writing down license plates, car descriptions, being able to serve as witnesses in court is also a key part of that. And we’re getting more of that.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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