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Gang sweep

Responding to a recent surge of gang-related violence in White City, police this week arrested four suspected Sureños gang members thought to be responsible for a recent drive-by shooting there, police said.

Three suspected gang members were arrested Tuesday, and a gang sweep on Wednesday in which police served four warrants resulted in another arrest.

Osbaldo David Espinoza, 21; Cristobal Lynn Barajas, 21; Christian Omar Espinoza, 19; and a 17-year-old boy, all from White City, face charges for their alleged involvement in a May 7 drive-by shooting on Hale Way, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said in a news release.

Osbaldo Espinoza, Barajas and the juvenile were taken into custody by police Tuesday following a gang-related brawl near the intersection of Jacqueline Way and Avenue C at about 6 p.m., the release said.

The teen was armed with a loaded handgun when he was arrested, and police said they believe he was the gunman in the drive-by shooting that took place in the 8000 block of Hale Way, sheriff's spokes-woman Andrea Carlson said.

Carlson would not reveal the identity of the juvenile.

Seven people were believed to have been involved in Tuesday's fight, including Norteños gang members, she said.

"It sounds like an incident that had been going on all day ... escalating," she said.

Carlson said Wednesday's gang sweep was planned ahead of Tuesday evening's fight, which led to the arrests of Osbaldo Espinoza, Barajas and the juvenile.

"The plan was set for (Wednesday) to get all of those people, and then they just so happened to get arrested Tuesday night," Carlson said.

Christian Espinoza was arrested Wednesday at his home in the 3200 block of Antelope Road, the release said. He is believed to have been the driver during the drive-by shooting.

Osbaldo Espinoza was lodged in the Jackson County Jail without bail on charges of second-degree disorderly conduct, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon and a probation violation on an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge, jail records show.

Barajas was jailed on charges of second-degree disorderly conduct, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon, criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree assault, riot and unlawful use of a weapon, records show. His bail was set at $1,022,000.

Christian Espinoza was lodged in jail on charges of reckless driving, driving under the influence of intoxicants, four counts of recklessly endangering another person, criminal conspiracy to commit unlawful use of a weapon, riot and second-degree disorderly conduct.

Following a two-week investigation, SWAT teams from the Sheriff's Department and Medford police, as well as detectives from both agencies, swarmed four White City residences linked to the suspects Wednesday, the release said.

Two warrants were served in the 3200 block of Antelope Road, one in the 2700 block of Falcon Street and a fourth in 800 block of Isabella Way, the release said.

Police seized several items from the four residences related to the shooting, but no guns or drugs were seized, the release said. A stolen bicycle was recovered.

The May 7 drive-by shooting on Hale Way took place at about 7 p.m., the release said. A blue Pontiac Sunfire with four male occupants, one of whom was blasting a shotgun out the window, was seen leaving the area at a high rate of speed before crashing into a yard, nearly running over the resident of that home. Suspects ran from the crashed car, leaving a shotgun behind, the release said.

A house near where the drive-by shooting took place was peppered with several shotgun rounds fired from the vehicle, the release said.

Another drive-by was reported April 26 near the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Avenue H, prompting a man whose house was hit by gunfire to start an armed patrol of the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.

The Medford Police Department SWAT team completes a search of a house on Falcon Street in White City during a gang sweep in White City Wednesday. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Bob Pennell