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Raids net suspects in graffiti vandalism

August 29, 2008|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County sheriff's transit investigators raided more than a dozen locations Thursday morning, arresting a crew of suspected graffiti vandals believed responsible for more than $1 million in damage to public and private property across three counties.

At least 16 members of the UPN crew, shorthand for "Your Property Next," were taken into custody in predawn raids across L.A., Orange and Riverside counties, said Sheriff's Deputy Devin Vanderlaan.

More than 70 deputies participated in the operation, which seized slap tag stickers, posters, spray cans and permanent markers as well as an air compressor, Vanderlaan said.

Those arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism included Gregory Anthony Atencio, 21, of Los Angeles, who uses the tag "47er" and has caused an estimated $65,000 in damage, primarily to Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses, Vanderlaan said

Another suspect, Phillip Gutierez, 18, also of Los Angeles, went by the name "SLOW." Vanderlaan said investigators believe he is responsible for at least $60,000 in damage to buses and trains as well as defacing a widely recognized Olympic mural on the 110 Freeway, Vanderlaan said.

Both suspects were previously arrested by the California Highway Patrol on suspicion of tagging freeway walls. Both were cohorts of "Buket," the 24-year-old tagger who was accused of spraying buses and freeway signs.

"Buket" -- whose real name, deputies say, is Cyrus Yazdani -- was charged in May with nearly three dozen counts of felony vandalism for allegedly splashing his moniker at dozens of county locations.

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andrew.blankstein @latimes.com

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