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8 arrested in crackdown on L.A. County tagging crew

July 20, 2011 |  8:05 pm

Members of a tagging crew allegedly responsible for more than 1,600 pieces of graffiti vandalism were arrested Wednesday by authorities serving search warrants at houses in cities across southwest Los Angeles County.

Eight people, including one juvenile, were charged with causing more than $100,000 in vandalism to schools and Metro bus and rail systems, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. All are alleged members of the ASC -- Art Sex Crime -- tagging crew.

The case grew out of a task force formed earlier this month to attack tagging vandalism on Metro and Los Angeles Unified School District property, according to the report.

The tagging crew was formed about eight years ago. It became the focus of the task force when, using new databases, investigators were able to identify the crew’s tags on schools around southwest Los Angeles County, the report said. Further investigation showed its graffiti in areas around the schools.

The databases are a new tool in law enforcement’s fight against graffiti, allowing investigators to track tags across city and county lines and put together large cases against the same taggers that once were difficult to make, investigators say. The cases often include measures for reimbursing the costs of graffiti cleanup. 

Some 24 search warrants were served Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, El Segundo, Inglewood, Gardena, Hawthorne, Huntington Park, South Gate and Torrance. Authorities identified those arrested as Anissa Gonzalez, 19, of El Segundo; Emanuel Gutierrez, 20, of Inglewood; Christopher Alamarez, 19, of Huntington Park; Giovanny Franco, 22, of Torrance; Loane Ruiz, 21, of Inglewood; Gustavo Marquez, 19, of Gardena; John Hollenbeck, 18, of South Gate; and a 17-year-old boy from South Gate whose name was withheld because he is a minor.

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-- Sam Quinones

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