Sheriff's rural crime task force launches first operation

February 14, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

With the county Sheriff's Office placing more focus on agriculture-related crimes, the department's rural crime task force has conducted its first operation, aimed at preventing stolen property from leaving the county.

The recent operation was done jointly with a task force from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Imperial County sheriff's Investigator Gabe Vela, assigned to the local task force, said the joint operation focused on trying to stop the movement of stolen rural goods through the Valley into Mexico and into Arizona.

The operation targeted commercial vehicles traveling on Interstate 8 toward Arizona and highways leading to Mexico.

The concern is that stolen property such as farm vehicles and other farm machinery, construction equipment, hay, livestock and other ag-related items are being moved through the Valley inside commercial vehicles.

Vela said the operation was conducted in a "roving" manner in that investigators would stop commercial vehicles that had a vehicle code violation.


The operation netted one arrest for an illegal narcotic and there were several citations for vehicle code violations.

No stolen property was recovered.

Vela still said the operation was a success as a key first step toward cracking down on ag-related crimes, which he said is a prevalent problem in the Imperial Valley.

Vela said, "It was a learning experience for our agency."

He added more operations will be conducted in the area.

"We have opened the door to proactive law enforcement in the Valley," Vela said.

Authorities have asked that victims of rural crimes contact the Sheriff's Office rural crime task force. They have said that is the only way they can attack such crime and prevent future offenses.

To report ag crimes contact Vela at 344-2615 or sheriff's Investigator David Yaryan at 339-6324.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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