- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2003

D.C. police arrested two persons yesterday in what they said was part of a campaign to stem gang violence that escalated this summer with a series of tit-for-tat shootings.

Police have made arrests in four of five shootings among Hispanic gang members between July 26 and Aug. 4 that killed four persons and injured five. Police officials credited a gang intervention task force with helping to diffuse hostilities.

“We are still concerned about gang activity, but we feel results are being achieved through the gang intervention partnership working hand in hand with the community,” said Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile.

Mauro del Cid, 18, of the 1100 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW, and Gilberto Vigil, 18, of the 1300 block of Seventh Street NW, were arrested early yesterday without incident and charged with murder while armed.

The men are accused of killing Samuel Arias Avila, 19, of the 1400 block of Columbia Road NW, on Aug. 2. Mr. Avila had been beaten and shot in the head and body.

“I think the arrests today are very encouraging, and I want to commend the police on their work because there really is no substitute for effective police work,” said D.C. Council member Jim Graham.

The boldness of the shootings concerned police and Northwest residents.

One occurred in broad daylight. Another killed an innocent bystander and injured a 5-year-old girl whose left leg was grazed by a bullet.

In August, city officials created a task force — including police, public officials and community groups — to work toward ending the gang violence.

“I’d like to think there was a significant contribution made by [the task force], because we really have been engaging the neighbors and the people involved,” said Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and a member of the task force.

Police officials said the violence stemmed from two disputes between gangs based in the Hispanic communities of Northwest.

One dispute involved the La Mara R, a large Hispanic gang operating from 17th and R streets NW, and a smaller gang, 1-5 Crew, based around 15th Street NW.

The other dispute involved the Street Thug Criminals and the Vatos Locos, whose name translates loosely to “crazy men.”

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