http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2007/06/22/did-one-gang-bust-tip-the-scales


Mountain View Voice

News - June 22, 2007

Did one gang bust tip the scales?

Police believe arrest of 'zip-tie robbers' caused slowdown in city's violent crime rate

by Daniel DeBolt

Late last year, a string of vicious robberies put local police in overdrive. The robberies — more than a dozen in all — all followed the same m.o.: A small group of armed men burst in on a business, bound up employees using zip-ties, and fled with the cash.

Police got a break in tracking down the so-called "zip-tie robbers" in January, arresting two young men after a routine traffic stop. They had just robbed a store in Santa Clara.

Eventually police arrested five more members. All seven are believed to be high-level Sureno gang members frequently active in Mountain View.

Because of the arrests police say that crime rates appear to be down this year compared to 2006.

"We can only speculate, but that's our guess," said police spokesperson Liz Wylie. "Busts like that really help combat gang activity."

Only two of the alleged robbers grew up in Mountain View, but Wylie said the others were considered to be major "shot callers" among the Surenos here. The adult suspects include Alan Martinez, Chris Kramer and Juan Luna from Santa Clara; Ricardo Fitz and Cruz Magana from Mountain View; and Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Barrera of Los Altos. The district attorney's office said there may be juveniles involved in the case as well, but no details were available by press time.

"I can tell you they don't always live in the same place," said David Boyd, head of the district attorney's gang unit. He said the DA's office considers them to be hardened criminals, adding that Magana is being held in San Mateo County on attempted murder.

In December and January, police believe, the gang was responsible for 14 robberies in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, San Jose and Mountain View where zip ties were used to tie up store clerks. Three of the robberies in December took place in Mountain View, including one at Las Mustaches Aquaria on Old Middlefield Road: After tying up the store employee, they also approached a son of the store owner in the parking lot, locked him in the trunk of his own car, and stole his stereo speakers and amplifiers.

Police say it was easy to link the crimes because of video surveillance and suspect descriptions. They say two of the suspects had stolen property in their possession at the time of arrest. Once the first suspects were apprehended, police were able to track down the others, Wylie said, using databases which keep track of gang members and who their fellow gang members are.

Preliminary hearings have been held in the case, but a trial isn't expected for several months.

Serious gang crimes declining this year

While lesser gang crimes such as vandalism are up slightly this year, more serious gang crimes are down slightly. From January to May, city records show, there were six reported cases of serious gang crime — compared to nine during the same period last year.

Police define a gang crime as an incident done "specifically for the purposes of the gang," Wylie said, which means it can't simply be a crime done by an individual gang member.

Another way police define crimes is in two categories: "Part I" — which includes more violent crimes such as homicide, rape and burglary — and "Part II" — which includes nonviolent crimes such as fraud, vandalism and prostitution.

Looking at only Part I crimes, police say that out of 2,858 reported in 2006, the most significant gang crimes were 11 assaults with a deadly weapon, one felony battery (a gang fight), and three robberies. That's not a large fraction compared to the total crime statistics for 2006, which included 533 assaults and 71 robberies that year.

Other gang crimes from 2006 include two "brandishing a weapon" incidents and a school fight at Terra Bella Academy. An example of a common but less serious gang crime would be vandalism or graffiti.

Police say crime in general is down this year compared to last. Serious violent crimes have averaged 167 a month in the first three months of 2007, compared to 256 a month for the first three months of 2006 — a 35 percent drop.

Despite these numbers, less serious gang crime is up slightly so far this year. There were 21 gang crimes from January to April of 2007, but during the same period in 2006 there were only 17.

How much the alleged zip-tie robbers' arrests have to do with the decrease in serious gang crime is a matter of speculation. But Mountain View police hope to see a noticeable effect for many years to come.

Because the suspects are facing so many robbery charges with gang enhancements, "They may not be in our city for decades," Wylie said, "which will be great for our crime rate. These were some of the shot-callers."

CRIMES IN 2006:

Robberies: 71

Assaults: 533

Weapons Offenses: 42

Total, including all other crimes: 6,438

GANG-RELATED CRIMES IN 2006:

Robberies: 3

Assaults: 13

Weapons offenses: 4

Total, including all other gang-related crimes: 67

TOTAL GANG RELATED INCIDENTS, JANUARY TO APRIL

In 2006: 17

In 2007: 21

Source: Mountain View Police Department

For more crime statistics, see www.ci.mtnview.ca.us/city_hall/police/crime_prevention/crime_statistics.asp

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Albert B. Franklin, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:15 pm

When Manuel Juarez was murdered by is brother's friends. Crittenden should check itself because this all stemmed from when his girlfriend was advised to get him to stop a gay student from hitting her and her friends. Instead, a rich kid chose to break up friends, and send them willynilly all over the country because he wanted to be a dope dealer? I was driven to Mountain View, because the guy that brought me there his ex-girlfriend told him where my best friend's mother's store was, so he went there and ripped her off. Then, with me again in tow in Fresno, his girlfriend told him to threaten people over there when she lived there herself, but no one suspected her even here! In 3 year's time these gangs Black, White or Hispanic will not gain a thing due to the economy. With the nation in debt 90 trillion as hundreds of tillions are set to evaporate the stock market, isn't it about time you think about all those exterminated in the state in the name of the devil? Hispanics are in gangs, because whites of Europe sprinkled their mother and father with the Black Plague, and set them in the Black Forest. 138 years later, Columbus came to America and told everyone here that they were white! If 99% of the state's Superfamily was exteminated then when the precursor to the Ku Klux Klan when they too were black came to California as mestizo, mullato, octaroon and quadroon, yet today they are not? Ask anyone with Native American blood,"Where is your branch of the Superfamily in California and more chances than not they would point to gangs as their god!


Posted by Albert B. Franklin, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:15 pm

When Manuel Juarez was murdered by is brother's friends. Crittenden should check itself because this all stemmed from when his girlfriend was advised to get him to stop a gay student from hitting her and her friends. Instead, a rich kid chose to break up friends, and send them willynilly all over the country because he wanted to be a dope dealer? I was driven to Mountain View, because the guy that brought me there his ex-girlfriend told him where my best friend's mother's store was, so he went there and ripped her off. Then, with me again in tow in Fresno, his girlfriend told him to threaten people over there when she lived there herself, but no one suspected her even here! In 3 year's time these gangs Black, White or Hispanic will not gain a thing due to the economy. With the nation in debt 90 trillion as hundreds of tillions are set to evaporate the stock market, isn't it about time you think about all those exterminated in the state in the name of the devil? Hispanics are in gangs, because whites of Europe sprinkled their mother and father with the Black Plague, and set them in the Black Forest. 138 years later, Columbus came to America and told everyone here that they were white! If 99% of the state's Superfamily was exteminated then when the precursor to the Ku Klux Klan when they too were black came to California as mestizo, mullato, octaroon and quadroon, yet today they are not? Ask anyone with Native American blood,"Where is your branch of the Superfamily in California and more chances than not they would point to gangs as their god!


Posted by Rob, a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 9, 2007 at 1:11 am

From what I know about the gangs here this city is this; the Nortenos and Sureno's in this city are becoming a larger threat to the safety and comfort of citizens living in Mtn. View. One gang may outnumber the other at one time, but its only a matter of time before the numbers shift. And when that happens, there will once again be higher crime rates among the gangs and within the lives of law abiding citizens who work or reside here in Mountain View. Unless there is a stronger gang prevention force in the middle schools and high schools, then I know for a fact, the crime rate will rise and the lives of many of the young people who become part of the gangs, will be damaged. Some even beyond rehabilitation. I do give the MVPD many thanks for taking violent offenders off the streets, through investigating crimes and the interconnected chain of crimminals who commit the offences. But what other steps and what other actions are the schools and city committee members and the PD taking, to prevent our young people from turning to gangs.... there need to be more done in schools so we dont see any more of the violence we've recently seen in this city. The city needs to involve community outreach groups to become part of the cities plan to deture crime and gang membership. Or, DOES the city even have a plan for prevention!?


Posted by Rob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2007 at 1:11 am

From what I know about the gangs here this city is this; the Nortenos and Sureno's in this city are becoming a larger threat to the safety and comfort of citizens living in Mtn. View. One gang may outnumber the other at one time, but its only a matter of time before the numbers shift. And when that happens, there will once again be higher crime rates among the gangs and within the lives of law abiding citizens who work or reside here in Mountain View. Unless there is a stronger gang prevention force in the middle schools and high schools, then I know for a fact, the crime rate will rise and the lives of many of the young people who become part of the gangs, will be damaged. Some even beyond rehabilitation. I do give the MVPD many thanks for taking violent offenders off the streets, through investigating crimes and the interconnected chain of crimminals who commit the offences. But what other steps and what other actions are the schools and city committee members and the PD taking, to prevent our young people from turning to gangs.... there need to be more done in schools so we dont see any more of the violence we've recently seen in this city. The city needs to involve community outreach groups to become part of the cities plan to deture crime and gang membership. Or, DOES the city even have a plan for prevention!?