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Milpitas resident blames gangs for drive-by shootings, vandalism

June 30, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Clear tape covers two bullet holes in the front window of Daniel Velez's house on Milpitas Drive.

Velez, whose southeastern Calexico house has been the target of recent drive-by shootings and vandalism, said the stress on his life in the aftermath of the attacks has caused him to lose weight and lose friends.

He has thrown away the business cards with his address printed on them and moved his van from where it had been parked in front of his house.

On Friday afternoon Velez's stepson, Jose Navarro, translated as Velez explained why his house might have been targeted.

"Most likely it is because of gangs," Velez said through Navarro.

Velez said he moved his gardening and construction business from Los Angeles three years ago and tried to start something new in Calexico.

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He said some of the family members who live with him have been associated with Los Angeles gangs.

Because of that association, alleged Calexico gang members have singled out his house for gunfire, threatened his neighbors, thrown bottles at the house and broken car windows along the street, according to Velez.

On Saturday Calexico police Sgt. Gonzalo Gerardo called Velez and his family "victims," but said there is no evidence that gang affiliation has anything to do with the attacks.

"They're the victims, but something caused them to become victims," Gerardo said. "That's our thing."

He said the motive for the three attacks in the past three months is under investigation.

At Milpitas neighborhood meetings after the shootings, neighbors told Gerardo of loud music, reckless driving and vandalism associated with Velez's house.

"The neighbors don't feel safe," Gerardo added.

On July 9, Gerardo said he will conduct another neighborhood meeting at which the neighbors will set up a neighborhood watch group.

Velez attended the second meeting with his neighbors and offered to help.

Despite that, he said some of his neighbors and prospective clients have begun to blackball him.

Navarro, translating for his stepfather, said: "A lot of ‘friends' look at him bad — ones that used to give him keys to work on their yards."

Velez claims the reason his former friends have started to shun him is due to an effort to set up a "drug-free zone" that includes houses on Milpitas Drive.

After Velez's house was the target of two drive-by shootings, Danny Silva, the drug-elimination coordinator for the Calexico Housing Authority, looked into ways to bring the area, including and surrounding the Milpitas cul-de-sac, into a "drug-free zone."

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

After hearing of Velez's accusations, Silva said he tried to set up a zone including Milpitas because of reports from housing residents that drug sales were being conducted from a house on the street.

Velez said the drive-by shootings have nothing to do with drug sales to housing residents and claims that Silva's efforts to include his street in the drug-free zone has unfairly linked his home as the house of the residents' claims.

Gerardo said police have searched Velez's house three times but have found no evidence of drug sales or trafficking.

Some of Velez's neighbors are also upset with Silva.

They have told the police department that Silva's efforts to include Milpitas in a "drug-free zone" could lower their property values.

Silva said a drug-free zone would not lower the property value of homes on Milpitas Drive.

"That's a misconception. On the contrary, what we want to do is clean up neighborhoods so property values go up," Silva said.

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

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