SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A South Bay tagging crew will receive a hefty punishment for vandalism, after prosecutors tacked on a gang enhancement.

Members of the HYSU or “Have You Seen Us?” crew agreed to plea deals Tuesday that will put them behind bars for at least six months. Some of the members were facing up to 13 years in prison before they took the deal. With the enhancement, members could receive longer prison sentences if they are ever convicted of a felony again.

This is the first time a street gang enhancement was used to prosecute graffiti in Santa Clara County. But Prosecutor Anne Seery defended the enhancement, stipulating that street gangs are defined as having more than three members, a common name or sign or symbol and that their primary activity is felony conduct.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

“HYSU is more than three. I have seven defendants and their primary activity is felony vandalism. It’s under the law that they are a criminal street gang. I didn’t make them one. They are one,” Seery said.

The leader of HYSU – Sesar Diaz – was sentenced to time already served plus probation, and thousands of dollars in restitution.

One of his friends, George Brown, said HYSU did not deserve to be prosecuted as a violent gang when their only weapon was spray paint.

“For them to put those two in the same category is beyond me,” Brown said.

According to police, HYSU caused more than $60,000 in damages to businesses, overpasses and other private property before they were arrested.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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