A major strike against gang violence in San Diego County resulted in an unusually high number of arrests.
At a news conference Wednesday, interim U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson announced that the collective work of several law enforcement agencies resulted in federal charges against 140 gang members and associates in the last 75 days.
“Vigorous law enforcement is critical. Gangs must not be allowed to hijack our community’s safety and poison our youth with illegal drugs,” said Robinson.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, more than 60 firearms and 30 pounds of methamphetamine, plus cash and drugs were taken off the streets during the course of four long term gang investigations.
One of the investigations helped identify and find Dionicio Torrez, a Diablos gang member suspected of shooting and killing an Escondido woman on March 7.
Catherine Kennedy was caught in gang gunfire as she drove home from church.
Kennedy's dead sparked conversation about the prevalance of gang violence in Escondido. Police held a community meeting to discuss the issue and how they were working to the combat it.
According to court records, the Diablos gang has been responsible for a number of crimes in San Diego County, including more than 25 gang-related shootings, multiple attempted murders, and the widespread distribution of narcotics and firearms.
The gang has around 311 documented members and 400 "associates." It claims the eastern and north central areas of Escondido as its territory.
“The arrests in these investigations illustrate that when there is violence and drug trafficking in our communities, it will be dealt with swiftly,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman in a statement.
During the news conference, Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter had something similar to say to anyone involved in gangs.
“My message today is this--'If you’re in a gang, realize that we’re looking. We are we are paying attention to what you’re doing and we’re going to do everything. We can cross the entire spectrum of law enforcement to put you into custody.'"