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Officials Seek Injunction Against Oxnard's Colonia Chiques Gang

Citing growing violence, police and D.A. ask the court to set up a safety zone where members' behavior could be strictly controlled.

March 25, 2004|Holly Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

Declaring a crisis sparked by unprecedented gang violence in recent months, the Ventura County district attorney and Oxnard police announced Wednesday that they are seeking a permanent injunction against the Colonia Chiques gang, which has terrorized the beachside city for more than three decades.

"The Colonia Chiques is the largest and most violent criminal street gang in Ventura County," Dist. Atty. Greg Totten said at a news conference at City Hall, where he was joined by Oxnard Police Chief Art Lopez and three dozen city and community leaders. "They are an imminent threat to the law-abiding residents of this city."

Totten and Lopez vowed to end the grip that the 1,000-member Chiques gang has on the city.

"They have preyed upon too many of our peaceful residents," Totten said. "They have to be suppressed."

The court order would be a shield for the community from ongoing violence, a tool for police to make more arrests and a warning to gang members that "law-abiding residents are taking back the streets," he said.

If approved by Superior Court Judge Fred H. Bysshe, the injunction will restrict the activities of gang members within a specified area, barring them from congregating in public, flashing gang signs, violating a 10 p.m. curfew and wearing gang attire, which includes Dallas Cowboys shirts, jackets and bandannas. A hearing on the request is scheduled for May 24.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday March 26, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 60 words Type of Material: Correction
Oxnard map -- A map with an article in some editions of Thursday's California section about a "safety zone" that Ventura County law enforcement officials want to establish in Oxnard to help curtail gang activities contained an error. On the map, Oxnard Boulevard is incorrectly identified as Ventura Road. A correct version of the map appears today in Section B.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday March 26, 2004 Inland Empire Edition California Part B Page 1 Metro Desk 2 inches; 0 words Type of Material: Correction

In a 275-page affidavit filed with the court, authorities described the county's largest and oldest Latino gang as "urban terrorists" that have destroyed neighborhoods, families and businesses and forced residents to stay indoors in fear for their lives.

On Wednesday, Totten and Lopez said the gang had been involved in more than 2,000 incidents of criminal activity over the years, including numerous homicides, 400 violent assaults and 300 robberies. Often, they said, the victims were hard-working, innocent field laborers.

"They are a pack of wolves," Lopez said of the Chiques. "They go out and they prey on people ... and really have brought down our quality of life."

Although similar injunctions have been used in Los Angeles and other urban areas, authorities said, the Oxnard case would be especially noteworthy because the injunction would cover more than a quarter of the city of 180,000.

The court order would establish a safety zone in a 6.6-square-mile expanse stretching from the Ventura Freeway to the Pacific Ocean. The area would include a wide strip through the inner city and the Colonia neighborhood where authorities have documented hundreds of crimes by the gang, including involvement in 39 killings since 1992.

"Parents can take their kids to the park again," said Karen Wold, one of two prosecutors who drafted the injunction. Violation of the injunction could result in a six-month jail term, officials said.

Although formal research for the injunction began last September, Lopez, a former chief deputy for the LAPD, said the effort was further fueled by the Oct. 11 slaying of Froylan Martinez, 16.

The teen, a football player at Pacifica High who had never been in trouble, was shot in front of his family's Colonia house while walking to a neighbor's birthday party.

After shooting the boy once, the gunman walked up to Martinez as he lay bleeding on the ground and shot him again, killing him. There were several witnesses, but no one would cooperate with police for fear of retaliation by gang members. Authorities said the killer was a rival of the Chiques. Police believe Martinez was the victim of mistaken identity.

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Times staff writer Greg Griggs contributed to this report.

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