RENO, NV - The Regional Gang Unit has made several arrests in the last two weeks after an operation targeting graffiti and gang crimes.
The first arrest was September 14th, when officers arrested 29-year-old Ezequiel Baltazar. Police say he is a prolific tagger, charged with a gross misdemeanor for graffiti. They say he's responsible for approximately $1600 in total damages related to graffiti.
September 16th, the RGU continued to target graffiti offenders and arrested a juvenile for gang graffiti. During this operation, RGU officers also targeted a Reno park, where a local gang has been increasing its presence and criminal activity. Located in the area during the graffiti operation was a documented juvenile gang member wanted for a recent robbery within this city park. He was arrested for the robbery offense and booked into Jan Evans. RGU officers then sought another prolific juvenile responsible for gang graffiti, charged with a gross misdemeanor for graffiti. The juvenile defendant is a documented local gang member who was also currently on juvenile parole.
September 17th, RGU and Washoe County School Police were conducting a follow-up investigation into a string of graffiti cases in Washoe County, specifically in the Spanish Springs High School area. During these graffiti incidents, public parks and businesses had been damaged by gang graffiti. Additionally, residences in the area had been damaged, including garages, sidewalks, and an American flag. Spanish Springs High School was also victimized. Two documented juvenile gang members were arrested for the graffiti and charged with gross misdemeanors. More arrests are expected to follow with this investigation continuing.
During these specific graffiti arrests, it was discovered that another juvenile gang member had been involved in a recent larceny in Spanish Springs at the Save Mart at Pyramid and La Posada. A female victim had her purse stolen while inside the supermarket. Several witnesses attempted to subdue the thief, who fought with witnesses and escaped. This subject was identified during this operation and arrested Thursday, September 19th. The juveniles believed responsible for the above graffiti and larceny cases are currently on juvenile probation.
On the early morning hours of Friday, September 20th, Reno Police patrol officers responded to a call for service related to graffiti, in the area of Kietzke and Peckham lane. Officers located several documented gang members and associates from a Reno gang, committing graffiti crimes in the area. Once detained, it was determined the approximate total damage exceeded $5000.00 and they were subsequently charged with felonies. Those suspects are 20-year-old Peter Cortez and 20-year-old Adan Vargas.
Friday, September 20th, Regional Gang Unit officers concluded their operation with two more arrests of prolific taggers believed responsible for graffiti within Washoe County. 25-year-old Tyler Wood was arrested for a gross misdemeanor graffiti charge, with damages at $3130.00. Also arrested was 19-year-old John Bennett, charged with Felony graffiti, with damages totaling more than $5600.00.