Sheriff Joe Arpaio kicks off weekend crime crackdown in west Valley

PHOENIX - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio kicked off a two-day crime suppression sweep with a news conference Friday afternoon.

Arpaio said he ordered the crackdown after one of his jail detention officers was gunned down in his driveway by a suspected gang member.

The crime suppression activity will encompass a 40-square-mile area bounded by Camelback Road to the north, the Salt River to the south and 43rd Avenue to Litchfield Park, according to spokeswoman Lisa Allen.

Arpaio said the operation will be carried out by over 150 deputies, posse members and reserves.

He said gangs and gang activity are prolific in the neighborhood where Detention Officer Jorge Vargas was shot and killed early in the morning on August 8.

"They killed my officer … shot him, assassinated him and he was in uniform -- you don't do that," Arpaio said.

Authorities arrested 15-year-old Leonard Moreno . His arrest was announced on September 25 when police said he had been in jail for a few weeks facing an aggravated assault charge after taking part in an unrelated drive-by shooting.

Arpaio denied this weekend's operation has anything to do with immigration. It comes just two weeks after he was ordered by a federal judge to fix relations with the Hispanic community.

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