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Third gang sweep rolls through; at-risk families getting personal visits

Fallbrook experienced its third gang sweep in six months on Saturday night, October 11, funded by the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant.

The Byrne grant was awarded to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department by the US Department of Justice for the purpose of reducing violent crime and gang violence in North San Diego County.

More than 50 Sheriff’s deputies, parole and probation officers, federal agents and support staff participated in the most recent operation, under the direction of Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation Commander Alex Dominguez and Sgt. Ron McCracken.

“We certainly notice a drop in the level of criminal activity after these operations,” said Dominguez, who explained that the most recent sweep resulted in seven warrant arrests, six narcotics arrests, three arrests for driving under the influence, one arrest for felony evasion that involved a car pursuit and 39 field interviews with gang members and others involved in suspicious activities.

“Once again, it’s a tremendous benefit to the community for us to have these officers here,” Dominguez said. “I consider each and every one of [the sweeps] to have been very successful.” The first two gang sweeps took place on April 11 and July 19.

Dominguez explained that part of the strategy involves targeting specific individuals. “We hit a number of targets – people on probation or parole with conditions that allowed us to search targeted residences and people,” he said. “Out of those searches, fourth waiver, parole or probation searches, some arrests occurred.”

“We certainly appreciate and value the cooperation between North County agencies,” Dominguez said. “The grant has allowed for an enhancement of our operations because we all understand that criminal activities cross all of our jurisdictions. Working closely with different law enforcement agencies really enhances communication and cooperation between us.”

In addition to the orchestrated sweeps, the Sheriff’s Department has launched a proactive program to try and deter youth from getting involved in gang activities in the first place.

Armed with a new video, “Not Too Early, Never Too Late,” produced by students at California State University, San Marcos and funded by County of San Diego Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn, Sheriff’s deputies are paying personal visits to parents of youth they have identified as being ‘at-risk.’

The deputies are giving copies of the videos to parents and encouraging them to view it. The video talks about why individuals get involved in gangs and features personal interviews with past gang members, some of whom are serving time in prison.

The video details warning signs parents should be on the lookout for that may be indicative that their child is becoming involved in gang activities.

Parents are also being encouraged to visit the Sheriff’s Department with questions they may have or if they would like help addressing a developing situation in their family.

“The pressure is on,” said Sgt. McCracken. “We are trying to reach out and help kids before they end up getting hurt or going to prison.”

On a separate note, just before the large number of officers hit the streets for the October 11 gang sweep, an incident between individuals in two vehicles occurred near Live Oak Park.

“A dispute erupted between two people in two different cars,” Dominguez explained. “One guy threw a knife at another guy. We caught and arrested the suspect after a car pursuit.”

Dominguez said neither individual involved in the incident has gang affiliations.

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