Visalia Police crackdown on gang Violence

FRESNO, Calif.

Law enforcement says gang-related crimes normally escalate this time of year.

Every night since Thursday, Agent Lance Brooks with the Visalia Police Department's gang suppression team has been patrolling the streets looking for gang activity.

"You stay right here? nah. I was going to my friend's house."

This man was arrested Saturday during a traffic stop after police found drugs inside his car.

Investigators say he has gang ties and that he was driving in a well-known gang area.

"Our specialty is to be observant because being in the gang suppression unit; you have your specialties as far as what gang you wanna work. So you really have to work that gang and know their ins and outs and when you see something not right, you act on it."

Right now, law enforcement throughout Tulare County is paying close attention to people associated with gangs.

Gang-related crimes normally escalate when kids go back to school because it gives gang members a chance to re-connect with friends and recruit new ones.

Still, despite this latest operation's "back to school" focus, gang crime is on the rise year-round.

Visalia Police say, in 2010, there has already been four gang-related homicides, 39 assault with a deadly weapon reports and 17 drive-by-shootings.

That's more than double what the numbers were a year ago.

Concerned Visalia residents say they appreciate the department's pro-active approach.

"I'm pretty scared because sometimes you know there might be a fight, even weapons can be involved and everything, so I'm scared for my kids."

Since Thursday, Visalia police have made more than 20 arrests.

They have also confiscated 6 firearms. The operation will run through Sunday night.

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