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Suspected gang members have day in court

Several alleged gang members, arrested in a recent countywide sweep, were arraigned Monday.

December 19, 2006|By Michael Alexander

Some of the 57 people arrested in a recent countywide gang sweep appeared in court Monday to answer the allegations.

Anaheim police, who led the effort, have not released a list of names, but prosecutors confirmed that at least one local resident — Dustin Taylor Jeffries, 26, of Costa Mesa — was arraigned today and pleaded not guilty at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Jeffries was arrested in the 2100 block of Thurin Avenue Thursday on suspicion of multiple crimes, including illegal possession of firearms and membership in a criminal gang organization. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 27.

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The operation involved 300 officers representing agencies from all levels of government, and teams of agents searched 75 locations throughout the county.

Police said it was aimed at alleged members of the white supremacist Public Enemy Number 1 (PEN1) gang, a group accused by authorities of putting law enforcement officials on a "hit list." Most were arrested on unrelated charges, such as possession of illegal firearms or drugs, or parole violations, according to police.

A 2004 California Department of Justice report called PEN1, "one of the most powerful and fastest-growing gangs, inside and outside prison." It went on to note that every known member had been arrested multiple times, and members have previously assaulted law enforcement officers. PEN1 has ties to the Nazi Low Riders and Aryan Brotherhood prison gangs, according to the Anti-Defamation League's website.

Many of the other suspects might not face prosecution for weeks, as attorneys consider whether to build a larger case, said Susan Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney's office.

"Most people are in custody for other unrelated offenses," Schroeder said. "We have some time to review certain cases and decide how to move forward."

Costa Mesa police said Jeffries has been released on bail. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

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