Officials in Lancaster said Thursday they are joining forces with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies to declare war on a local street gang they blame for a recent spike in crime in the High Desert region. “The city of Lancaster, the Lancaster sheriff’s department, and the citizens of this valley have worked too hard fighting crime over the past several years to have this group of thugs try to destroy our community’s sense of safety and peace of mind," Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a statement. City officials allege that hoodlums associated with the infamous Bloods, a predominately African American street gang, have been “targeting the Antelope Valley ... showing a blatant disregard for the rights and property of others.” Officials say the number of burglaries, robberies, car thefts and larcenies have increased in Lancaster neighborhoods. "The Bloods picked on the wrong city and the wrong mayor and now have a real battle on their hands," Parris said. In an interview with The Times earlier this week, the mayor said he was declaring "open season" on the gang. City officials said several operations are underway to combat crimes committed by gangs, including those conducted by the Sheriff’s Department’s robbery suppression and burglary suppression teams. Future strategies would include undercover operations and aerial surveillance, which would help minimize the ability of gang members "to hide from the law," city officials said. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Erik Ruble, of the agency’s Operation Safe Streets bureau, said his agency would work with the L.A. County district attorney’s office to secure gang enhancements in sentencing and prison time in any case involving the gang. The enhancement would make the gang member eligible for as much as 10 additional years in prison, Ruble said. In addition, Parris said he would contribute $10,000 of his own money to a reward for citizens who provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a Bloods gang member. "We know who they are, where they live, what cars they drive, and who they associate with," Lancaster sheriff’s station Capt. Bob Jonsen said in written remarks. "They will feel our presence in their lives from this day forward. I can assure the Lancaster community that this gang’s days of terrorizing this community are coming to an end." Said Parris: "They better start packing for a one-way trip out of our city."
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