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Atty. Gen. Brown offers reward in attacks on Hemet gang task force

March 18, 2010 |  4:20 pm

California Attorney General Jerry Brown. Credit: Ben Margot / Associated Press Calling it a form of "urban terrorism," Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and Riverside County officials asked Thursday for the public's help in finding those responsible for at least three recent attempts to kill members of a gang task force based in Hemet.

They also offered a $200,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the suspects.

"It is incredible and even unprecedented for police officers here to be subject to terrorist attack," Brown said at a Riverside news conference. "We have seen it south of the border but not here yet."

All of the attacks on the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force involved some sort of booby trap.

In December someone redirected a gas line to flood the task force's offices with gas so any spark would cause an explosion. In February, a handgun was hidden by the office gate. When a gang officer opened the gate, the gun went off, narrowly missing the officer. And two weeks ago a suspicious device was found near a task force member's unmarked car.

On Wednesday, a countywide sweep directed against the Vagos motorcycle gang led to 30 arrests. Riverside County Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco said the gang, which has a major presence in Hemet, had a history of attacking police officers. But he refused to publicly tie them to the recent incidents.

"It's not that I cannot make a connection. It's just that I am not here to do that today," he said.

Pacheco said the Hemet-San Jacinto area has about 2,000 gang members.

"Hemet has become ground zero for gangs in Riverside County," he said.

-- David Kelly from Riverside

Photo: California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown. Credit: Ben Margot / Associated Press