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Riverside gang sweep nets 50 rival members

January 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Dozens were arrested in a police crackdown on rival gangs caught up in what officials call a deadly Riverside race war.They're suspected of belonging to two of the most dangerous gangs in the Inland Empire. The two rival gangs, one made up of Hispanics, the other of African-Americans, have battled on the streets of East Riverside for years.

Wednesday, however, a massive gang sweep netted 50 arrests -- 50 suspected gang members who will battle no more.

"There are many, many wonderful decent people in this community that actually live next door to gang members," said Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach. "And sometimes they're silent about what they see and hear, but it's our job to make sure they can't live in fear, be terrorized by an occupying army of gang members. That's what this is all about today."

But besides Riverside City Police, a number of agencies from all across Southern California were involved in this gang sweep, including agents from the Coachella Valley, Orange County and Los Angeles County.

"The damage that we did was to the leadership, going after the top folks that run the organization," said Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco.

The two leaders of the Hispanic gang, Robert Zavala Carillo and Mark Alexander Gil, are still at large and wanted by police.

Besides arrests, more than 650 agents also confiscated a number of weapons, stolen badges -- even two rattlesnakes -- gang paraphernalia that shows just how dangerous these guys are.

"Pretty darn dangerous," said Leach. "I think we can account for at least seven or eight murders because of their gang activity, some innocent victims being shot, being injured, in the way of gang warfare."

Only about 5 to 10 percent of the membership of these two gangs was arrested Wednesday. So there's a long way to go. But authorities say they're ready.

"We're not giving up, we're not going away," said Pacheco.