Gang raids produce 91 arrests

April 3, 2008 1:55:09 PM PDT
Police in Plainfield have arrested 91 suspected gang members in a roundup designed to stem rising gang-related violence in the north-central New Jersey city. The arrests happened in waves, with 46 people being nabbed between Jan. 23 and March 20, and 24 more arrested Wednesday and Thursday.

State police Captain Al Della Fave said the suspects brought in during the series of raids all face narcotics charges, with one wanted on attempted murder.

Items seized include $18,000 in cash, 11 handguns, a stun gun and a 3-foot alligator. The reptile was taken to an animal shelter.

Della Fave said police officials in Plainfield contacted the state police gang unit in January seeking help dealing with a burgeoning problem of drug-dealing and violence by reputed members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs. Many of those arrested belong to "Clinton Avenue Posse" and other local affiliations of the notorious Bloods and Crips gangs.

The project to break up the gangs was dubbed "Operation 5-Spot" because the gangs were thought to be operating in five parts of the Union County town.

"The gang violence that was trying to strangle the life from this area has been swept off the front pages by a highly successful and cooperative police operation," said Lt. Col. Gayle Cameron, superintendent of the state police investigations section.

She said a long-standing rivalry between two city gangs led to a recent surge in shootings and other violence.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine and Attorney General Anne Milgram announced a comprehensive new anti-crime strategy in October that specifically targeted gun and gang violence.

Though New Jersey is safer overall than it was a decade ago, the number of murders and gun-related crimes has risen, an escalation law enforcement officials attribute to the increasing presence of street gangs.

The most recent state police report on gangs showed 43 percent of New Jersey communities and all but one county reported evidence of gang activity.

Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in Mount Laurel contributed to this report.