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Crime spree halted with gang arrests

Elliot Hernandez

By Fritz Mayer
July 11, 2012

Six men aged 16 to 19 have been arrested for taking part in a crime spree that hit Sullivan County in recent months. Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff said that five of the men belonged to a gang called 2 Live Crew and had the name tattooed on their bodies. Schiff said that one suspect did not have the name tattooed on his body because he was not yet officially a member but was instead a “prospect who was trying out for full gang membership.”

According to police, some of the suspects repeatedly stole vehicles from South Woods Drive in the Town of Thompson at the end of May. Also, according to a police press release, “Over the Memorial Day weekend, a brand new 2012 Dodge Ram pickup truck was reported stolen from a residence on Bridgeville Road next to Johnston Toyota. The stolen truck was recovered the next day near the Monticello High School athletic field. The vehicle had been driven down an embankment causing substantial damage.”

Among the other incidents, a residence on St. Joseph Hill Road was the subject of a burglary on June 3. There was another burglary in Forestburgh on June 10, during which the intruders gained access to the home by pushing an air conditioner through the window. When they were confronted by the homeowners, they fled without stealing anything.

After a few weeks of investigation, sheriff’s detectives zeroed in on several members of the Monticello street gang. Charged with the June 3 and June 10 burglaries in Forestburgh are Fredys Mendoza, 17; Elliot Hernandez, 18; Aniebal Santiago, 19; and Joseph Strong, 18, all of Monticello. Charged with the May 25 theft of the pickup truck are Richie Reyes, 16; and Angel Sanchez, 17. Both are also from Monticello.

Several of the suspects have been arrested previously for burglary by the Monticello Police, and deputies are working with surrounding police agencies to connect the gang to other crimes around the county.