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Thursday, 30 October 2008

Clashes between rival Norteño and Sureño gangs in Cutler and Orosi

16:31 |

Tulare County Sheriff's Department, meanwhile, continued its show of force in the Orosi-Cutler area. Sheriff Bill Wittman vowed an even stronger law enforcement presence Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.Wittman also appealed for help from those who may have witnessed the shootings, one Saturday night and two Sunday night.Sheriff's deputies arrested a 17-year-old youth Tuesday night after serving a search warrant at a residence in the 13000 block of Quinto Court, Cutler.
There was no information about whether anything investigators found at the residence led to the arrest. The name of the suspect was not released because of his age. He was booked at the Tulare County Juvenile Facility. The youth is a suspect in the death of Daniel Mesa, 16, and the shooting of a 13-year-old boy. Mesa was shot Sunday night at Highway 63 and Avenue 413 in Orosi. It was the first of two shootings Sunday night.Wittman said eight detectives are working on the shootings around the clock.He said the sheriff's department's two gang units would be assigned to street duty in Cutler and Orosi over the weekend.Clashes between rival Norteño and Sureño gangs in Cutler and Orosi are what one former sheriff's gang unit supervisor, Kevin Cotton, once called "a constant struggle."Most street gangs there were once affiliated with the Norteño gang confederation. But in the last three years, Sureño gangs moved north from Southern California. Now Cutler is Norteño territory and Orosi, barely half a mile away, is Sureño country.While investigators believe the shootings are gang-related, Wittman said evidence is limited regarding the Saturday night shooting.Witnesses reported gang hand signs being flashed by occupants of a car that drove alongside a Jeep SUV as it traveled southbound on Highway 63 near El Monte Way.A gunshot fired from the car killed the Jeep's driver, James Vincent Meza, 18, of Visalia.The second shooting Sunday night, in the 37000 block of Avenue 408, killed Roci Martinez, 37, and left her domestic partner, Evaristo Enruquez Hernandez, 44, seriously wounded.They were shot as they sat on their front porch.Also wounded at the Avenue 408 location was Antionette Hernandez, 42. Wittman said investigators had not been able to determine the relationship, if any, between Antoinette Hernandez and the others.Wittman said investigators had been unable to determine whether an incident Oct. 23 in Sultana, west of Cutler, was related to the weekend shootings.In that incident, a 25-year-old man said he was attacked, kicked and beaten by 10 to 15 men. Later, deputies arrested two people, Noealdo Patino, 18, and a 15-year-old, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

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