RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- Reno Police have recently arrested several juveniles and adults for graffiti charges in the area.
One week ago, members of the Regional Gang Unit began an operation to target gang members and taggers involved in graffiti crimes. The operation began with RGU members assisting Nevada Adult Parole and Probation on September 14th. RGU assisted with home visits of high risk offenders on parole and probation with strong gang ties in Washoe County. On September 14th, an adult prolific tagger named Ezequiel Balthazar, 29, was arrested and ultimately charged with a gross misdemeanor for graffiti. This subject was responsible for approximately $1,600 in total damages related to graffiti, over a short period of time.
On Monday September 16th, RGU continued to target graffiti offenders and arrested a juvenile for gang graffiti. During this operation, RGU officers also targeted a local Reno park where a local gang has been increasing its presence and criminal activity. Police arrested a juvenile for a wanted robbery offense and booked into Jan Evans. RGU officers then sought another juvenile responsible for gang graffiti. This subject was located and charged that evening with a gross misdemeanor for graffiti. The juvenile defendant is a documented local gang member who was also currently on juvenile parole.
On Tuesday September 17th, RGU and Washoe County School Police were conducting a follow up investigation into a string of graffiti cases in Washoe County, specifically in the Spanish Springs High School area. During these graffiti incidents, public parks and businesses had been damaged by gang graffiti. Additionally, residences in the area had been damaged, to include garages, sidewalks, and an American flag. Spanish Springs High School was also victimized during the crime spree. Two documented juvenile gang members were arrested for the graffiti and charged with gross misdemeanors. More arrests will follow with this investigation continuing. During these specific graffiti arrests, it was discovered that another juvenile gang member had been involved in a recent larceny in Spanish Springs at the Save Mart.
A female victim had her purse stolen from her while inside the supermarket. Several witnesses attempted to subdue the suspect, who fought with witnesses, ultimately escaping from the scene. This subject was identified during this operation and arrested on Thursday, September 19th. The juveniles responsible for the graffiti and larceny cases are currently on juvenile probation.
On the early morning hours of Friday September 20th, Reno Police patrol officers responded to a call for service related to graffiti, in the area of Kietzke and Peckham lane. Officers located several documented gang members and associates, from a local Reno gang, committing graffiti crimes in the area. Once detained, it was determined the approximate total damage exceeded $5,000.00 and they were subsequently charged with a felony. The two arrested for felony graffiti were 20-year-old Peter Cortez and 20-year-old Adan Vargas.
On Friday September 20th, Regional Gang Unit officers concluded their operation with two more arrests of prolific taggers responsible for graffiti within Washoe County. Suspect Tyler Wood, 25, was arrested for a gross misdemeanor graffiti charge, with damages at $3,130.00. Also arrested was suspect John Bennett, 19, who was charged with Felony graffiti, with damages totaling more than $5,600.00.