More gang members taken off Canyon County streets

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by YSABEL BILBAO / KTVB

NWCN.com

Posted on January 16, 2010 at 2:24 PM

NAMPA -- The streets of Nampa are a little safer after an investigation that landed leaders of one gang in jail.

It was an eight-month investigation handled by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

That investigation put nine suspected members of the North Side gang behind bars.

And because of that, officers say Nampa's streets are even safer. 

“We have Joe Simpson, he' s charged with three counts of recruiting gang members, he faces a max of 30 years in prison and a $150,000 fine," said Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak.
 
Joe Simpson is one of the leaders taken into custody.  He wears his affliation proudly and has been a target for federal and city law enforcers for the past eight months.

Simpson is one of nine men taken into custody early Thursday morning after a raid on two Nampa homes.

"It's a great day for the community, not just for Nampa, but Caldwell and all the Treasure Valley," said Nampa Police Chief Bill Augsburger.

With a grand jury indictment, the North Side as they are known, were taken into custody.

Four face multiple federal firearms charges that could land them in out-of-state prisons.

Five are charged with recruiting a criminal gang member -- a state offense.

"They're crooks, they don't follow rules of society, we suspect them of theft, drug delivery, of course we have firearms violations," said Augsburger.
 
Cracking down on gangs has been a priority for police and the prosecutor.  Some officers are dedicate to solely monitor gang activity.
 
And while Augsburger is aware he will never be able to eliminate gangs, he says keeping them behind bars helps.

"We just keep chipping away, we do as much as we can, as often as we can and whenever you find criminality in these gang members and you can prove it in court, and you arrest them each and every time," said Augsburger.
 
A similar sweep happened last year in Caldwell. At that time, leaders of the East Side Locos were arrested and locked up. 

"We actually detect a noticeable difference and our crime continues to decrease, and in speaking with street crimes unit, we are seeing a drop in business, it is significant," said Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood.

"Law enforcement is watching gangs, law enforcement isn't going to tolerate the gangs here in the Treasure Valley, and we are going to continue to keep our eyes open and prosecute these gang members until the gang presences in the Treasure Valley is simply eliminated," said Bujak.

Now the search is on for these two female suspects.

They are 24-year-old Elyze Zuniga, and 32-year-old Yesenia Ortiz, both of Nampa.  They are wanted on federal firearms violations charges.  If you know where they are, you are urged to call police.

A third Nampa home was searched the same night of the arrests, but no one was arrested there.

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