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Del Rey Residents Rally Their Forces to March on Crime


Del Rey resident Tom Meza on Saturday planted a 5-foot-wide sign in the front yard of an alleged drug dealer. Decorated with a fist and a pointing finger, the sign read: "We know who you are; you deal early in the morning and deal late at night. You're making big bucks, but it's a matter of time before you'll be making big time in jail."

Meza's sign put into words the message to gang members and drug dealers that he and about 120 other people were sending as they marched from their Del Rey homes to a lot next to the Pacific Police Station on Culver Boulevard. The rally's organizer, the Del Rey Homeowners and Neighbors Assn., four weeks ago distributed 5,000 flyers to attract supporters for its campaigns against crime.

Organizers hoped to rally support for the goals of the homeowners group, which include keeping an eye on judges' sentencing records and possibly targeting for defeat judges who hand down "lenient" sentences.

The group also plans to lobby legislatures for laws tailored to deal with gangs and drug dealers. For example, the group wants a law requiring spray-paint cans to be sold from behind the counter to deter gang members from stealing paint for graffiti. They want to put the "bite and teeth" of federal penal laws into California laws, to decrease chances of the reoccurrence of a Sylmar situation, in which state authorities handed its case against major drug importers to federal agents because state laws were considered not tough enough for drug dealers. Los Angeles area police and federal agents recently confiscated about 20 tons of cocaine in a Sylmar warehouse.

"We've had guys arrested, and they're out the very next day doing the same thing they did the day before," said Charlotte De Meo, a member of the homeowners group and a 17-year resident of Del Rey. "I want those people arrested; I want them in jail. But our laws are not set up to handle the drug problem."

De Meo, a Neighborhood Watch block captain, said her group will petition for law changes, write to legislators and use retired workers as a resource.

"We would like," she said, "to get some of our senior citizens, who have more time, to go into some of our courts and just watch, see how many they let go in the period of a day."

Del Rey residents already have asked attorneys how they can change laws and sent a letter to a judge who they believe unfairly dismissed a case against car burglars. A copy of the letter also was sent to Mayor Tom Bradley.

In addition, the group sent letters to 25 apartment owners, requesting them to install lights in alleys, clean their properties and report crime.

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