Crime & Justice

67 teens caught in Orange County gang prevention sweep

Orange County conducted its first countywide curfew sweep last night, bringing in 67 teenagers for violating curfew laws.

According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, about 300 officers patrolled looking for minors. Minors caught in the sweep ranged from 13 to 17-years-old.

The sweeps focused mainly on areas with high gang or criminal activity, including gang neighborhoods, major malls, and gang injunction safety zones, which restrict activities of suspected gang members.

Minors caught violating curfew laws were taken by police to a local headquarters and held until their parents arrived to pick them up. The parent and child had to meet with representatives from the Orange County District Attorney's Office, as well as Orange County Probation Department officers.

Charges for violating curfew laws can include misdemeanor criminal prosecution, with penalties ranging from fines up to six months in jail for the parent, or juvenile hall for the child.

Orange County curfews began at 10 or 11 p.m., depending on the city, and last until 5 a.m. Minors are prohibited from being in public during these hours unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or given a circumstantial exception for employment, education, or an emergency.

A previous sweep in July, focused on the Block at Orange mall, found juveniles who were documented gang members from both Los Angeles and Orange counties, including some in possession of alcohol and methamphetamine. Since July, the Orange Police Department has conducted weekly curfew sweeps and seen the number of curfew violations go from over 100 to approximately 10 minors on a given night.

The Anaheim Police Department has conducted multiple curfew sweeps, and a large-scale sweep was conducted in north Orange County in May. Juveniles associated with gangs caught during these sweeps were ordered to complete community service by cleaning up gang graffiti, with parents of gang members instructed to participate in counseling.