Meeting to tackle gang issues - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Meeting to tackle gang issues

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Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2005 7:12 am | Updated: 7:17 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

May 21, 2005

Two gang-related fights in south Scottsdale earlier this week provoked a neighborhood response from police, social service workers and residents.

"Usually things like this will happen sporadically, there will be some kind of retaliatory incident and we all get together as a community and get a handle on it," said Scottsdale police detective Ron Bayne. "Enforcement is going to be picked up, with the sole goal (being) to stop this from escalating."

A community meeting, held in English and Spanish, to address gang issues is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Paiute Neighborhood Center, 6535 E. Osborn Road.

On Thursday, police met with city workers at the center to distribute information about the fights and other gang issues.

Alma Estefano, the center’s community outreach coordinator, said residents have complained about a group of men who moved into the neighborhood near 66th Street and Osborn.

The men are constantly drinking and fighting, and mothers in the area want police to round up the troublemakers and "take them away," Estefano said.

Sgt. James Hernandez of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said gangs are working their way back into the spotlight statewide after attracting less attention in recent years.

"They’re getting a lot braver because they haven’t been hit as much" by police enforcement, he said.

Members are throwing gang signs and wearing their colors publicly once again, he said.

Gangs in Scottsdale include "one or two Wet Back Power sets in Scottsdale," he said. "There’s other gangs in Scottsdale, but I would say those are the most active."

Hernandez said DPS assisted Scottsdale a few months ago in a case in which gang members had been committing robberies.

Scottsdale does not keep statistics on gang related incidents, and many crimes are not classified as gang related even if gang members are involved, Bayne said. The department listed one stabbing in the past two years as gang related, he said.

In the latest incident, several men — including some with gang ties — fought with screwdrivers and broken bottles about 11 p.m. Sunday in the alley and street area near 66th and Osborn, police said.

No one was seriously hurt in the melee.

The next morning in the same location, a woman was punched and hit with a brick. Cecilia Lopez, 20, Norma Lopez, 25, and Cristina Lopez, 42, all of Scottsdale, were arrested Monday on suspicion of assault after that fight. Bayne said the women arrested are not gang members but may have had a connection to the previous gang-related fight.

Bayne wouldn’t say what street gangs have operated in the area.

"From our experience, it provokes more violence because it publicizes their issues." he said.

For information about the upcoming meeting, call (480) 312-2597.

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