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Gang Violence Plunges to Lowest Level in Decade

May 17, 2000

ORANGE COUNTY — Gang violence in Orange County plunged last year to its lowest level in a decade, fueled in part by an aggressive crackdown on "bully gangs" operating in the South County, according to a district attorney's office report released Tuesday.

Violent crimes committed by gang members dropped by 10%, from 1,584 to 1,421, and gang homicides declined at an even greater rate. There were 26 gang-related murders in 1999, compared with 32 the year before and 70 in 1995, the report stated.

Prosecutors based the study on crime reports and court records from all 33 Orange County cities. They found:

* The number of people who weren't gang members victimized by gang crime dropped 32% last year to about 990.

* Despite the declining crime rate, the number of gangs actually rose last year. Four new gangs were formed in 1999, bringing the total in Orange County to 404, the report said. The number of identified gang members rose to 19,521, up 1,136 over 1998.

* A "bully gang" accused of various violent crimes across the South County has essentially been put out of business since several members were convicted last fall of attempted murder. According to records, the Slick 50s gang has not committed a single crime since the convictions.

While gang violence is still a problem in South County, officials said, incidents are generally decreasing. Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas praised the Sheriff's Department's anti-gang unit, TARGET, for helping reduce problems.

"There had been increasing gang activities for some years in certain parts of South County, and I think the TARGET unit has been key in identifying them and prosecuting them," he said.

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