Police say Sonoma Valley spate of crimes all linked to same gang

Sonoma County sheriff's detectives are boosting their presence in the Sonoma Valley after an alarming string of gang-related burglaries, robberies, assaults, a shooting and a stabbing.

Detectives have seized more than 15 guns and arrested at least 13 individuals in April for crimes ranging from assault and indecent exposure to robbery and possessing stolen firearms, Sgt. Dave Pedersen said.

Investigators suspect many of the crimes have been committed by members of the same norte? gang, long active in the Sonoma Valley.

"It's been heating up," said Pedersen, who runs Sonoma County's Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Team.

The incidents include the March 29 beating and robbery of a gay Sonoma teen at El Verano School, shots fired April 5 at a nearby Taco Bell and several neighborhood burglaries.

But the violence is not all recent.

An 18-year-old member of the same group was repeatedly stabbed Oct. 22 during a fight with rival gang members during an annual memorial held for teen slain in 2007, Pedersen said.

Pedersen said there is no clear reason for what appears to be a crime spree.

The gang unit is stepping up its efforts to arrest gang members committing crimes and to get guns off the street, Pedersen said. They are researching each of the weapons seized and have so far determined several were stolen.

"Gang members and gangs in general deal with fear and intimidation. Guns are a hot commodity," Pedersen said.

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