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No ‘quick fix' to drug sales and gunfire on Milpitas Drive

June 01, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Bullets whizzed from gun barrels in two drive-by shootings within the past month along Milpitas Drive here, and neighbors want it to end.

People in the southeast Calexico neighborhood have told the police and civic leaders that drugs are sold day and night from the garage of a house on the otherwise quiet cul-de-sac.

Sgt. Jim Neujahr of the Calexico Police Department said the situation is "something that needs to be addressed."

He added, "There is no quick fix, however."

Neujahr is calling on community members to band together and help police solve the problem.

On a recent visit to Milpitas the street was deserted.

A portable basketball hoop was tipped on its side. No children rode bikes along the pavement or skateboards on the sidewalk.

The only person visible at 4:30 p.m. — a time when streets across the city teem with children playing or neighbors visiting — was a man sitting in the shade of his garage alone, facing the street.

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"He's open for business," said Danny Silva, the drug-elimination program coordinator for the Calexico Housing Authority.

Silva is mad.

He said he hates the infestation of drugs in Calexico and wants to see drug dealers punished by the authorities.

It will take time in the case of the reputed drug house because the Calexico Police Department needs to gather more evidence, he said.

The time when the house is shut down can't be soon enough for the neighbors. They have told Silva and the police what they think goes on in the house and how they live in fear of the stray bullets of gang warfare.

Silva is trying to do something about it.

In the past few weeks he has lobbied the City Council and City Attorney Mike Rood to establish drug-free zones throughout the city or make the entire city of Calexico a drug-free zone.

Silva's concept would have anyone caught inside a "drug-free zone" face stiffer penalties for drug-dealing and trafficking.

Silva added most people who buy the drugs need treatment more than jail time.

Dealers, however; cause his brow to furrow. His hands punctuate his words.

"They should be locked up," he said. "Once we get this drug-free zone, drug dealers will leave and we'll treat the users through education and counseling programs."

Still, the house on Milpitas might not be included in a drug-free zone if the city uses the most common definition of the state and federal designations.

Usually, a municipality issues an ordinance declaring certain areas "drug-free zones."

The zones are set up near schools, parks, arcades and other areas where children congregate.

Silva said that system is fine but it would mean areas like Milpitas Drive would be excluded from the zone.

He wants to see the entire city declared a drug-free zone.

In the past, cities like Chico in Northern California have made their entire city a drug-free zone. Other cities have designated neighborhoods or housing projects drug-free.

In coming weeks Silva said he will get together with Rood and the City Council to seek ways to make the entire city drug-free.

Until then, the residents of Milpitas Drive might have to continue looking through a slit in their drawn curtains, wondering when the next rounds will be fired.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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