San Mateo County Gang Task Force Reports Increase in Searches, Seizures

2009 - 2010 data of arrests, searches, field contacts, weapons and drug seizures released for first time by county Sheriff's Office.

While the total number of gang member arrests decreased, an increased number of searches and seizures took place in 2010 compared to the year before, according to never-before released data from the San Mateo County Gang Task Force to Half Moon Bay Patch.

Staffed by an ever-rotating group of Sheriff's deputies and police officers from across San Mateo County, the Gang Task Force is under the jurisdiction of the Gang Intelligence Unit of the Sheriff's Office. The charge of the Task Force is to keep a lid on gang activity in the county by monitoring identified hot spots and checking in on gang members, affiliates and associates on probation or parole, according to San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Leo Capovilla, head of the Gang Task Force and the Gang Intelligence Unit.

The Gang Task Force was created in 2005 as a way to address the challenges cities were having with gangs at the time, Capovilla said.

"The problems that we had in 2005 were that gangs crossed city boundaries, but as law enforcement, we had city boundaries," said Capovilla.

"San Mateo County's model is unique, because we collaborate and work together across the county," he said.

According to Capovilla, the county is looked to as a model across the Bay Area for the way cities work together to share information as part of its Gang Task Force and Narcotics Task Force, as well as for pooling resources.

Each city contributes a proportional number of staff and funding to the Gang Task Force based on the size of the city. Eight cars with three to four officers in each car are deployed at one time with each unit taking on a different assignment at various locations across San Mateo County, said Capovilla.

"That's why a resident of Half Moon Bay may see a Hillsborough police car on their streets," Capovilla said.

One of the Sheriff's deputies who works as part of the Gang Task Force is Alfredo Gudino, a school resource officer who is part of the agency's school policing unit.

Gudino and other members of the Gang Task Force have patrolled identified hotspots in Half Moon Bay, especially in the wake of two last year between rival Norteño and Sureño street gangs, according to Lt. Lisa Williams, head of the Sheriff's Office substation in Half Moon Bay. Both gangs have strongholds in Half Moon Bay.

For 16 weeks of the year — centering around the summer months — the Task Force operates full time. During the rest of the year, it operates for four days each month. The specific days of the month are not announced to the public beforehand.

During a shift, units will search every person on parole or probation identified by the county's Gang Intelligence Unit as someone who is a gang member, gang affiliate or gang associate, according to Capovilla.

"We're going to knock on their door and search them," Capovilla said. "Then we'll send reports to their parole officer and tell them how they're doing."

Standard conditions for those on parole and probation are not being allowed to drink alcohol, carry weapons, spend time in "high violence" areas or hang out with other gang members, Capovilla said. Specific conditions vary depending on the crime associated with each individual, according to Capovilla.

Weapons and drugs seizures increased by the Gang Task Force from 2009 to 2010, according to data released to Patch exclusively thus far by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office (see table below).

One statistic Capovilla pointed out was the increase in seized firearms, which more than doubled from 2009 (15) to 2010 (34).

Over 1900 grams of drugs were seized in 2010, compared to over 1600 grams the year before. While marijuana was the most common drug seized by far in 2009 and 2010, cocaine was the second-most seized drug in 2009, followed by methamphetamines. In 2010, the amount of seized cocaine decreased dramatically while seized methamphetamines increased to the second-most commonly seized drug that year.

In 2010, the total number of searches increased from over 2800 to close to 4700 compared to the year before.

The total number of contacts made in the field — comprised of individuals identified to be gang members (or gang affiliates and associates) as well as non-gang members — increased by over 1600 from 6640 contacts in 2009 to 8300 in 2010.

While arrests were were down for juveniles from 2009 to 2010, adult arrests were slightly elevated for the same period. Total arrests decreased from 531 in 2009 to 494 the following year, however.

San Mateo County Gang Task Force Deployment Statistics, 2009 - 2010




ARRESTS 429 346 Adult 102 148 Juvenile 531 494 TOTAL ARRESTS 531 494


Parole 156 210 Probation 271 207 Arrest Warrant 8 6 Prepared Searches/Warrants Sent 435 423 TOTAL PREPARED SEARCHES COMPLETED 284 363


Parole 424 617 Probation 745 1344 Consent 1385 2373 TOTAL ON-VIEW SEARCHES COMPLETED 2554 4334


1* On-View Field Contacts (Non-Gang) 5833 6425 2 *On-View Field Contacts (Gang) 807 1875  -New Gang Validations 233 390  -Field Identifications (FI's) 1795 2569 TOTAL ON-VIEW FIELD CONTACTS (*1+2*) 6640 8300


Firearms 15 34 Other Weapons 24 32 TOTAL WEAPONS 39 66 Heroin (Grams) 39.34 22.1 Cocaine (Grams) 247.82 64.43 Methamphetamines (Grams) 149.6 202.11 MDMA-Ecstasy (2009 Grams/2010 Pills) 199.76 88 Marijuana (Grams) 1015.16 1527.18 TOTAL DRUGS 1651.68 1903.82

                             Source: Gang Task Force, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office

Marla Thompson March 02, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Donna March 03, 2012 at 02:27 AM
I think the San Mateo County Sheriff's office are doing a fantastic job! Knowing that they are out there to make our lives more peaceful and not always feeling like we are going to get "jumped" or "robbed" or even a prisioner in our own homes. I have been watching throughout the years the numbers of arrests, guns being taken and its all because of the Sheriff's Department. The hard working Officers associated with rotating and going out to make our communities a better place is very appreciative. I congratulate them and thank them for having a great group of Officer's in the Gang agency. Good job to all! Keep up the good work and get those "bad" people off the streets! Look at the stat sheet....Incredible!!
bw July 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Quasi-fascist state is oppressive, abusive and often associated with corruption. Hey where are new massage parlors that you like to hang out Sheriff Munk?
sue October 07, 2012 at 03:46 AM
I am all for safe streets but bw has a point. How did the people of San Mateo County just let Sheriff Munks slide when he was caught red handed at a massage parlor??? That means we paid for his trip, us the taxpayers of the county. Sad thing is no one really pushed for answers and since Munks is head sheriff he gets away with not answering any and I mean NONE nothing zero questioins regarding that massage parlor scandal. Seems as if so many people are hypocrites in this county but money talks letting bullshit walk. s
Alison December 06, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Doesn't Leo Capovilla have some extra-curricular activities that should be investigated?


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