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Calif. Chief Solicits Outside Help to Crackdown on Gangs

East Palo Alto police Chief Ron Davis is calling on regional, state and federal law enforcement agencies to help his department put the heat on local Norteño and Sureño gangs, which he blames for the slaying of a 3-month-old boy last month.

About 100 law enforcement and correctional officials are expected to attend a July 6 meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto to develop a strategy for striking the gangs, Davis said.

Early on the morning of June 5, two people opened fire on a car driving away from a baby shower in East Palo Alto, according to police. Although his mother tried to shield him and his brother in the back seat, infant Izack Jesus Jimenez Garcia was fatally shot in the head.

Police say the shooting was a gang-related case of mistaken identity: the gunman was a Norteño who thought he was shooting at Sureños who had beaten him up days earlier.

Fabian Zaragoza, 17, of East Palo Alto, was arrested the day after the shooting and charged with murder.

Davis said both gangs, not just the shooters, are responsible for the infant's death.

"The message I'm sending is, there has to be accountability for that shooting and murder," he said. "These are very structured gangs. When their members violate the community, there will be a consequence for all of them."

Davis said he hopes to enlist all law enforcement forces available to disrupt gang activity in East Palo Alto, and is asking the Internal Revenue Service to explore possible tax violations related to the financial activities of gang members.

Twice last week and twice this week, East Palo Alto police and other law enforcement officials conducted parole- and probation-related searches targeting alleged gang members and their associates, acting police Capt. Jeff Liu said.

On Wednesday, police contacted a dozen people connected to Norteño and Sureño gangs and conducted six searches, said Liu, adding that no arrests were made.

Though department-coordinated searches of high-risk parolees and probationers have occurred for years, Davis said what's different now is that the list has been narrowed to target the two gangs.

"We're trying to tell the Norteños and Sureños, you're the primary focus, it's all you," he said.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com .

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