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85 arrested in Santa Ana sweep

August 23, 2008|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

In a three-day sweep of a Santa Ana neighborhood, police arrested 85 people, many of them alleged gang members suspected of violating parole or possessing weapons and drugs, authorities said Friday.

The operation started early Tuesday with dozens of officers saturating a two-square-mile area southwest of the Civic Center, a show of force that was carried out in response to a recent increase in violence in central Santa Ana neighborhoods. There had been three shootings in a 24-hour period last month and an increase in arrests of armed gang members in the area.

Police also tried to tackle what they said has been a reluctance to report crime in an area where gangs have taken root. During the operation, police went door to door with church groups to urge residents on some of the most troubled streets to contact police to report crime.

"It's a sweep in the sense of arresting people, but it is also restoring trust and relationships that have been broken," Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido said.

Although police patrols have gone back to their normal levels since the operation ended at 1 a.m. Friday, officials said they hoped the outreach efforts would serve as a long-term solution to curbing the gang problem.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com

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