Police round up Crips in Tacoma gang sweep

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by LINDA BRILL & JIM FORMAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 9, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 9 at 11:17 PM

TACOMA, Wash. – Police on Tuesday launched a sweeping crackdown on gangs in Tacoma.

The raids ended in the arrests of more than 30 alleged members of the Hilltop Crips street gang.

"The Tacoma Crips has 100 documented members," said Gabriel Morales, a gang intervention specialist.

Morales' mission is to keep teens from joining violent street gangs. He hopes the crackdown is sending a message.

"Don't play. If you get involved in gangs, this is what is going to happen to you," he said.

Candi Hall of the D.A.S.H. Center for the Arts works to offer an alternative to the streets. Using music and dance, Hall is bringing young people together.

"We do provide what a lot of young people look for in gangs and that is a family that they don't feel that they have," she said.

The D.A.S.H. Center is located on the Hilltop at 15th and MLK, once a hot spot for drive-by shootings.

Tacoma's Hilltop was riddled by crime and gang activity in the late 1980s. Police threw gang members in prison. But now they're out and police say they're back at it.

The Tacoma Police Dept. says each of the individuals arrested was wanted for Criminal Conspiracy in connection with the gang's activities, which include attempted murder, home invasions and carjackings.

"The Pierce County Prosecutor will use new legal tools to dismantle the organization," said Fred Gutt of the FBI.

The Tacoma Safe Streets co-founder applauds law enforcement's newest approach to crippling the Crips.

"It is a business, an organization. There are people thinking about this every day while we're trying to protect our community," said Priscilla Lisicich. "It makes a statement to organized crime itself that this is not the place they can set up shop."

All of the suspects will appear Wednesday for their arraignment at the Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma.

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