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Tagging crew faces vandalism charges

LOS ANGELES — Felony vandalism charges have been filed against seven men and one woman suspected of being part of a tagging crew that scrawled graffiti on buses, trains and other property across Los Angeles County.

The suspects, who are all between 19 and 21 years old, were arrested Nov. 5 when more than 90 deputies served search warrants at 11 locations in Bell, Downey, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, South Gate and Walnut Park, according to Ramon Montenegro of the Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau.

The suspects are allegedly part of a tagging crew known as “PUNKS,” and were charged with 26 counts of felony vandalism, Montenegro said.

One other person, a 26-year-old man, was also arrested at one of the search warrant locations and booked on suspicion of child abuse, according to Montenegro.

The vandalism defendants could face additional gang enhancements “based on the manner in which the tagging crew used intimidation and fear against innocents and rivals,” Montenegro said.

“If criminal vandals want to gain fame and notoriety by tagging and damaging businesses and public transportation, they need to understand that law enforcement is going to extraordinary lengths to ensure it now costs them significant jail time and restitution,” the case’s lead investigator Deputy Mark Marriott-Lodge said.