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Authorities join forces for Fresno gang sweep

The Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium made its presence known in Fresno Saturday night.
The Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium, or MAGEC, made its presence known in Fresno Saturday night.

Since the beginning of the evening, officers and deputies were making arrests for even the slightest of misdemeanors. It's this no-tolerance policy that they hope keeps gang members in line.

Taking a stroll through this Central Fresno neighborhood, you'd never guess a high-ranking Mexican mafia member lives in this house. On Saturday, the MAGEC units checked in on the parolee. An undercover deputy says he was just released two weeks ago from a 22-year prison term at one of the most notorious prisons in California where he served most of his sentence in solitary confinement.

"He has a long gang history, so when he was coming to our county we went to go and introduce ourselves to him, learned a little bit about him, let him know that we're keeping an eye on him," the deputy said.

Creating relationships with those on parole is one of the goals of this gang sweep. They're also out photographing new tattoos, documenting changes on classified gang members.

"Our job is to keep an eye on you," the undercover deputy said. "If you don't violate law, then you're another citizen to us. If you start violating law, then we're going to do everything we can to put you right back in prison."

But with the crackdown even those who aren't affiliated with the gang lifestyle get caught up in the action, like a woman busted for carrying a meth pipe, and a man caught with what police say was likely a stolen and loaded gun.

"We've tried to spread out the teams all throughout the city to give all the different areas of the city attention tonight," said Lt. Steve McComas with MAGEC.

While their efforts were focused just in the city of Fresno, the gang enforcement unit hopes it sends a strong message to all gang members in the region.

Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp is slated to be head of MAGEC when she's sworn in as district attorney in January. She's already working on merging the homicide unit and the gang unit because she says those crimes go hand in hand.

"We're talking about doing some new innovative things to kind of restructure the office so that we can be more efficient, work together and get different units to work together so that we can fight this gang problem that we have in Fresno," said Sondergaard Smittcamp.

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