Thursday, October 22, 2009

PACOIMA Blood Gangs

Happy Balloons and Homicide:

Entering the Dangerous World of Flier Parties Article published by LA Weekly Pacoima, CA | On a recent Saturday night, the "party car" gets word from an undercover officer that a flier party with local gang members attending is about to start on Norris Avenue in Pacoima. Foothill Division Senior Lead Officer Jose Torres, who coordinates the Friday- and Saturday-night party detail, is worried because the house is located on Pacoima Blood gang turf. Within 15 minutes of getting the call, Torres and five other officers pull up to a rented white bungalow. Teenagers are milling about on the front lawn and the street. They scatter when they see the cruisers roll up. Hip-hop music and loud voices blast from the backyard. The six officers walk to the side gate leading to the backyard party and tell the more than 250 partiers, most of whom are Latino and in their teens, to disperse. After a few minutes, the kids begrudgingly
file past the office rs. A teenager complains about losing his $5 entrance fee. The officers continue to the backyard, which is completely dark except for the white Christmas lights around the DJ’s amplifiers and turntables. The cops tell the DJ to pack it up. A handful of stragglers attempt to jump the back fence, but the officers corral them through the side gate. Bottles of beer are scattered on the grass.

One of the partiers, 26-year-old Hector, says he goes to flier parties a lot, since he can’t get into bars because, as a resident of Mexico, he isn’t eligible for a California ID. His friend
Ricardo, the busted party’s DJ, throws parties every weekend in the San Fernando Valley. Word of this party, says Hector, spread from fliers passed out at San Fernando High School.

Officer Torres explains to Hector how dangerous these parties can be. His words fall on deaf
ears. "We will see you next time?" asks Torres. "I guess you will," laughs Hector. This type of intervention is relatively new. Last May, LAPD’s Foothill Division, which patrols the Northeast San Fernando Valley neighborhoods of Sylmar, Pacoima, Arleta, Mission Hills, Sunland, Tujunga, Shadow Hills, Sun Valley, La Tuna Canyon and Lakeview Terrace, started a party-suppression detail, made up of overtime and reserve officers, in the hope of stemming the tide of flier-party violence that has spiked dramatically over the past year.

As if to confirm the need for the detail, 27-year-old Antonio Vasquez and 23-year-old Hector Villareal, both DJ assistants, were gunned down by alleged gang members at a Sylmar party attended by hundreds of Sylmar High School students the very weekend the initiative was inaugurated.

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