SPPD: Investigators travel to help in cases of former area gang members

May 27, 2009
Santa Paula Police Department

Santa Paula police investigators are working with other agencies on gang prosecutions, including a double homicide that occurred two years ago in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesSanta Paula police investigators are working with other agencies on gang prosecutions, including a double homicide that occurred two years ago in Klamath Falls, Oregon.Sergeant Ishmael Cordero said the SPPD is “working in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, assisting them with information identifying suspects as gang members,” the gangs to which they belong, the activities of criminal street gangs, and other information pertinent to out-of-the-area investigations centered on gang members no longer residing in Santa Paula.One former Santa Paula resident and area gang member, Peter Covarrubias, 37, now of Klamath Falls, is facing charges that he and another man, Matthew Avina-Norris, 24, also of Klamath Falls committed a double murder in 2007. The August 19, 2007 Oregon shootings left Marissa Orlow, 20, and David Kitts, 22, dead, and a third person, Kitts’ wife, seriously injured.Covarrubias and Avina-Norris are charged with aggravated murder for those deaths and the attempted murder of Kitt’s wife. Discussions on whether to pursue the death penalty will take place this month, and the trial is scheduled to begin on September 8.
In recent weeks Cordero and SPPD Officer Frank Huerta traveled to Hanford in Northern California to testify in the attempted murder trial of Jesse Vera, a former resident of Santa Paula and a documented gang member. Vera, said Cordero, is charged with attempted murder stemming from a knifing in a Hanford bar.Often, gang member attorneys attempt to downplay gang membership or claim such associations are centered on harmless social activity. Although gangs are widespread throughout the United States, local law enforcement and prosecutors rely on police witnesses from other agencies to help define specific gang activity and other aspects of the gang membership related to the suspect.And, noted Cordero, gang members are often on the move: “They move out of town for different reasons. Maybe they’ve committed so many criminal acts here they’re avoiding us,” local police who easily recognize the suspect, and “don’t want contact with us as they fear arrest for what they’ve done.”There are those who move to avoid something much more dangerous: “Gang bangers also leave the area because of fear of other gang members” who have targeted them for attack.Whatever the reason, if arrested and prosecuted in their new locales, gang members are being vigorously prosecuted including investigation input and/or trial testimony from those police agencies that know them best.



Site Search

Tel: 805 525-6048  marydeines@roadrunner.com
E-Subscribe

Subscribe

E-SUBSCRIBE
Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.

webmaster