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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Kennewick’s Reputation “Progresses” from Home of Kennewick Man to Home of Hispanic Gangs; 259 Arrested in 7 Gang Sweeps Since July, 2009, Because of Authorities’ Refusal to Enforce Immigration Law

By Nicholas Stix

The “Tri-Cities” are Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, in Southeastern Washington.

25 people arrested in Tri-Cities gang sweep
By Loretto J. Hulse
May 5, 2012, 12:00 a.m.; updated 6:20:58
Tri-City Herald

Twenty-five people were arrested this week in a Tri-Cities gang sweep.

"This was the seventh gang sweep since the first in July 2009 and one of the most successful. I have to commend all our partners. We pulled together," said Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg at a news conference Friday morning.

Normally a joint effort like this takes a month or more to plan, but this one was pulled together in 24 hours.

"We used a lot of resources in the process. About 26 to 30 officers were involved, all had specific assignments," he said.

The sweep involved 11 agencies, including the Benton County Gang Enforcement Team; Richland Street Crimes Unit; Kennewick detectives and Criminal Apprehension Team; Pasco detectives; Franklin County deputies; Washington State Patrol troopers; and agents with the U.S. Marshals, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Washington Department of Corrections, Benton Franklin Juvenile Probation and the Southeast Communications Agency.

Twenty were picked up on felony warrants, and 14 had misdemeanor warrants.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers also made two arrests, and five juveniles were taken into custody, as well.

Officers served eight search warrants in Kennewick and Pasco during the sweep.

Benton County Sheriff Steve Keane said one reason the gang sweep was so successful, even with just a few hours planning, was "all our gang enforcement teams are out in the community constantly. We're all proactive ... gathering information every day."

Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner agreed.

"It's not a Pasco police problem or a Kennewick police problem or a Richland police problem; the issue is a Tri-City issue," Skinner said.

What triggered the gang sweep were a recent series of gang-related activities in Kennewick:

April 26: Shots were fired at 11:50 p.m. in the area of Fourth Avenue and Vancouver Street. No arrests were made.

April 27: A blue truck dropped off several men who walked up to a group of people at Fourth Avenue and Underwood Street and fired shots hitting one vehicle at 5:25 p.m. Four male suspects were arrested on Thursday, including Jamie Ruiz, 25, of Kennewick, Hector Huerta,18, of Pasco, Vincent Enriques, 19, of Pasco, and a 16-year-old boy.

April 28: A vehicle drove by Fourth Avenue and Rainier Street as people were getting into their car at 11:30 a.m. The men got out, asked the people about their gang involvement and threatened to shoot them.

April 29: There was a drive-by shooting at 2:26 a.m. on the 1900 block of South Garfield street. Shots hit a house but no one was hurt. Then at 2:59 a.m., police were called about shots fired in the 100 block of Jean Street, where another house was hit.

On Thursday, there was a robbery and assault at 2:28 a.m. on the 3400 block of West Hood Street. One suspect was stabbed. The three arrested included: Laura Martin, 22, of Kennewick, Esteban Arredondo, 20, of Pasco, and Crystal Arredondo, 23, address unknown.

"Even though no one was hit (by gunfire), it raised public concerns and the police departments' concerns. Drive-by gang shootings showed gang activity was on the rise," said Hohenberg.

Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger agreed. "We need to ensure the safety of the community and officers. We needed to make an impression quickly," he said.

In all, 259 arrests have been made in the seven Tri-City gang sweeps since July 2009.

Anyone with information on gang activity is encouraged to call the hotline, 551-4264 (GANG).

[Thanks to reader-researcher “W.”]

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