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Sunday, 8 March 2009

Taliban street gang ,500 agents from the FBI and other agencies raided homes in East Palo Alto, San Jose and arrested 42 suspected members

08:20 | ,

500 agents from the FBI and other agencies raided homes in East Palo Alto, San Jose and elsewhere and arrested 42 suspected members of a street gang known as the Taliban.Culminating an 18-month investigation, the 7 a.m. raid targeted the East Palo Alto- and Menlo Park-based gang that the FBI contends has been responsible for killings, robberies, drug trafficking and illegal weapons possession. The men and women arrested range in age from 19 to 47."The East Palo Alto community is fed up with gangs and its associated crime and violence. This joint operation represents a pinnacle moment in the fight against gangs," East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald L. Davis said in a prepared statement.FBI SWAT teams from four cities, along with local and state officers, executed 29 search warrants. Besides the gang's base in southern San Mateo County, raids were in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Redwood City, Gilroy, Stockton, San Francisco and others."This operation was the largest collaborative effort in the Bay Area in 30 years," Menlo Park Police Chief Bruce Goitia said in a news release. He labeled those arrested as "high-level targets.''According to the FBI, the Taliban gang formed in 2002, from two other gangs known as the Midtown Hogs and the G-Town gang, in response to a war against the now-defunct Sac Street gang. Its growth became the focus of a multiagency investigation by East Palo Alto police, Menlo Park police and the FBI.The gang selected its name for "shock value," the FBI said. It is not affiliated with any Middle Eastern or Muslim entities. The FBI reported the seizure in the raids of 14 handguns, two large-caliber assault rifles and varying quantities of Ecstasy, cocaine base, codeine and narcotics-manufacturing evidence. Authorities also seized 10 autos and $240,000 in cash.Depending on the type of search warrant law enforcement had for each house, the raids ranged from a "knock-and-talk" to a full-blown SWAT team entry with flash-bang grenades and other distraction devices, according to East Palo Alto detective Ed Soares. At a house raided on the 1400 block of Camellia Drive in East Palo Alto, neighbors noted teams of agents, with "FBI" in large letters across the backs of their bullet-resistant vests, walking in and out the front door. Those neighbors also said they had been awakened by a loud, early-morning bang and then watched from their lawns as a man and a woman were brought out in handcuffs. An FBI agent carried out a small child covered in a blanket. While those living close by said they knew of the Taliban gang, none of them was aware of what was going on at the house or why it was being raided.Gang members "were quite successful in terrorizing the city," Soares said at a news conference, pointing to a chart mapping out homicides, robberies and other crimes connected to the gang. The map showed the heaviest concentration of crime in sections of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park between Willow Road and University Avenue.
"Today, we have taken a major step toward clearing the way for members of these communities to make their own path without the constant fear of gang violence,'' said FBI Special Agent in Charge Charlene B. Thornton.But other law enforcement officials said that dismantling one gang often creates a power vacuum that others attempt to fill. "Today we should celebrate," Davis said, "but tomorrow is a new day and there will be a new gang. "... We will continue our fight and dismantle these gangs one by one until our community can enjoy the safety it deserves

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