Mesa task force arrests 129 in gang sweep - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Mesa task force arrests 129 in gang sweep

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Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:07 pm | Updated: 2:15 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Mesa Police Department's Gang Task Force and other law enforcement agencies recently arrested 129 people in three weeks, including three arrests of homicide suspects.

The arrests, made between Jan. 21 and Feb. 8 as part of an ongoing crackdown to curb gang-related activity and decrease serious crimes, included 46 previously unidentified gang members from 25 different gangs suspected of crimes ranging from public alcohol consumption to homicide.

Overall, eight warrants were executed throughout the city, four firearms were seized and two arrests were made of illegal immigrants from Mexico who had previously been deported for past felony offenses, Mesa police Chief George Gascón announced Thursday.

Of the 129 arrests in what authorities dubbed "Operation Full Court Press," 54 were for suspected felony offenses.

Last year, Mesa saw a 12 percent drop in violent crimes compared with 2007, the largest drop since 1968, according to statistics from the Mesa Police Department.

That crime reduction saved the community and taxpayers about $23 million, estimated Gascón, who has in the past cited studies that measure the costs of crimes.

"When people are shot and go into an emergency room, we're all paying for it," Gascón said. "People sometimes do not realize it, but there's a big expense involved with crime. That is sometimes overlooked, and we want to continue cutting down on crime and the expense of it."

The cost of prosecuting an aggravated assault averages $123,000, a robbery averages $51,000 and a burglary $4,000, according to information from the police department.

During its last quarterly sweep conducted between Oct. 15-25, Mesa's Gang Task force and other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Marshal's Office and the Chandler Police Department, made 80 arrests.

But graffiti remains a problem, Gascón said.

Al Moore, director of security for the Mesa Unified School District, said that vandalism from graffiti cost the district $500,000 last year.

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