General Crime

Santa Cruz Gang Task Force Makes Seven Arrests

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The Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team’s Gang Task Force arrested seven people Friday on outstanding felony warrants and suspicion of illegal drug possession and other allegations, a sheriff’s sergeant said.

The task force’s sweep began at 3 p.m. Friday at an apartment in the 100 block of Bixby Street in Santa Cruz, where members contacted Anthony Espudo, 34, and Catherine Lorenzo, 35, who had arrest warrants, sheriff’s Sgt. Stefan Fish said.

The two attempted to hide but were soon taken into custody by gang task force members, Espudo for two felony and four misdemeanor bench warrants and Lorenzo on a felony bench warrant, Fish said.

At 3:30 p.m., the task force arrived at on Canfield Street at San Lorenzo Boulevard seeking two juvenile suspects with outstanding bench warrants, and saw both suspects trying to run away, according to Fish.

Team members engaged in a foot pursuit of the juveniles, who are brothers, and caught up with one, a 17-year-old, inside a Walgreen’s drug store at 201 Front St., but the other brother escaped.

The 17-year-old was carrying methamphetamine and marijuana and was arrested on his felony bench warrant and on suspicion of illegal drug possession, Fish said.

At 5:30 p.m., the task force observed Brad Spini, 18, riding a bicycle and stopped him for a traffic violation on Ocean Street at Coloma Street.

Spini, a transient and known drug offender, had an illegal knife on him and team members arrested him on suspicion of felony weapon possession, according to Fish.

At 8:20 p.m., officers from the team were dispatched to the Santa Cruz Levee Trail under the Riverside Avenue Bridge on a report of a possible drug deal.

The officers arrived and detained three suspects, Victor Martinez, 46, Rigoberto Rodriguez, 26 and Jose Baltazar-Mendoza, 23, all transients, who were nearby.

Officers witnessed Martinez trying to discard illegal drugs, Fish said.

The suspects were searched and officers recovered bundles containing 15.6 grams of heroin, 5.2 grams of methamphetamine and 1.3 grams of cocaine, and they were arrested on suspicion of possessing controlled substances for sale and conspiracy, Fish reported.

Martinez also had a felony arrest warrant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for failure to appear for a deportation proceeding, Fish said.

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