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Another crime sweep nets several felony drug charges

The authorities seem convinced that the local Latino street gangs are being controlled and directed by their comrades inside prison walls. In California, they don't have too much in hard evidence to support that suspicion, other than numerous hearsay reports. Additionally, prisoners are not the ones identified and arrested when gang sweeps leading to felony drug charges are carried out.

One of those sweeps was conducted in Kings County recently through the efforts of almost two dozen government agencies with the result that 17 people were arrested. The precise charges were not revealed, but were expected to range from an attempted murder charge to burglary, robbery and serious charges of drug trafficking. Several weapons and almost three dozen pounds of marijuana and other drugs were found.

It's often discussed how general crime sweeps can tend to bring the innocent within their broad nets of indiscriminate enforcement. In this particular dragnet, at least one woman appears to have become the possible victim of overzealous crime-fighting. She was shot and wounded by a California Highway Patrol officer under circumstances that the police have refused to explain, citing the ever-present, obligatory investigation. The woman wasn't arrested and is recovering in a hospital room.

With that kind of seemingly bungling mistake, it begs the question whether others were wrongly identified and perhaps wrongly arrested. Generally, it's required that each defendant has his or her own separate criminal defense counsel. Since each counsel must make a thorough investigation, these arrests will be scoured inside and out for police foul-ups, which is a good thing. In general, moreover, the failure to seriously dent the incidence of gang crime indicates a basic flaw in the methods chosen to stop these nefarious forces.

California is plagued by having a healthy share of the total gang violence nationwide. Rounding up a large group of individuals and arresting them somewhat indiscriminately on felony drug charges and other serious charges, however, is arguably not the way to eradicate the problem. Social programs and individual therapies directed to the source of the problem are less dramatic and eye-catching, but would probably go much further in bringing long-term, fundamental reductions in gang membership and gang crime.

Source: The Sentinel, Kings County law enforcement strikes back against criminal street gangs, Joe Johnson, Nov. 20, 2013

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