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Police arrest 73 suspected gang members

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Kathryn Stafford

Staff Writer

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 11:56 am | Updated: 8:40 am, Wed Feb 13, 2013.

Police hosted a press conference Feb. 6 to announce news of significant local gang arrests. Members of the Glendale Police Department discussed the conclusion of a long term criminal investigation that involved numerous arrests for violent crimes including armed robbery, aggravated assault, and murder. Police Chief Deborah Black, Assistant Chief Rick St. John and others spoke at the press conference.

At approximately 5 a.m. Feb. 6, the Glendale Police Department, working with several partnering agencies, served seven search warrants in the City of Glendale in connection with a 12-month investigation into the criminal street gang known as Grandel. Pronounced Gran-del, the local gang has been prevalent in the community since the late 1970s.

Police said there were two phases to the year-long operation. During phase 1, which occurred during the first six months of the investigation, Glendale investigators, working with Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and Immigration Customs and Homeland Security Investigations, cleared 40 violent criminal cases, made a total of 52 felony arrests and served 24 search warrants on locations and persons connected to Grandel.

Phase 2 consisted of a more covert operation, which included the service of search warrants early the morning of Feb. 6. Investigators secured indictments on 17 additional suspects on a total of 151 offenses. Several arrests were also made that morning, and police said they will be working for the next few days to locate and arrest the remainder of those indicted. Police said names of those arrested will be revealed as soon as it’s apparent it will not comprise impeding arrests.

Police said the completion of the current operation resulted in arrests of 73 persons tied to Grandel for 295 chargeable offenses, will have served 31 search warrants, and seized 25 weapons. Investigators believe that they will be able to show in court that these chargeable offenses were in promotion of the criminal street gang known as Grandel. Criminal charges brought during the course of this lengthy investigation include homicide, armed robbery, aggravated assault, weapons violations, home invasion, burglary, theft and money laundering. Police said all individuals involved were United States citizens.

Grandel members sworn into the gang do so from inside prison walls, conducting themselves in that way and completing tasks to prove themselves worthy of initiation. Members must have been born and raised in Glendale. Once released from prison, members are not allowed to leave the gang, and continue to carry out orders from the bidding of high-ranking gang members from inside prison. Police said a series of crimes and murders were orchestrated from inside the prison from Grandel leaders and “shot-callers.”

Grandel Gang markings can be seen spray painted across walls in south Glendale. Police said tattoos indicative of Grandel gang members include an old-English font “G” accompanied by a Cardinal and swords.

Comprised of both men and women members, the street gang has been present in the community since the late 1970s, growing in number and strength. Through the 80s, 90s, and into the 2000s, police said they saw an increase in criminal acts tied to members of Grandel. Police said the gang eventually began competing for control of local drug and gun trade with Mexican cartels.

Police said although most of the gang’s victims were other criminals, the community should expect to see less crime as a result of the gang bust.

“Anytime you get one criminal off of the street, the repercussions are huge, because they are usually repeat offenders, so an arrest of this magnitude will have a significant effect on making our city safer,” St. John said.

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