San Francisco police efforts calm violence in the Mission 

A crisis involving warring gangs in the Mission district in recent weeks appears to have been averted, at least temporarily, according to police.

Violence between Norteños and Sureños was touched off by Sureño graffiti appearing on Norteño turf near 19th and Bryant streets Feb. 18, according to police. During the two weeks following, there were four shootings and two stabbings, including one fatality.

But last week was different, police said.

“Right now, things have calmed down in the Mission,” police Chief Jeff Godown said Sunday, adding that stepped-up enforcement activities will continue.

Following the violence, police increased patrols and brought in tactical and traffic units. Both uniformed and plainclothes officers were combing the area, police said.

“So far, so good,” Mission police Capt. Greg Corrales said last week. “We had a very visible presence out in the district, and a lot of community groups, many of which have credibility with these guys, have been out with them, imploring them to call things even.”

But, Corrales said, gang members could be lying low for the time being, “because it’s hot in the Mission district right now.”

“We’re going to continue the heavy presence indefinitely,” Corrales said of police enforcement efforts.

Last week, Supervisor David Campos, a former police commissioner who has been vocal in asking for police to work more closely with community members, said he was “cautiously optimistic” and “very pleased with the response from the Police Department.”

Campos, whose district includes the Mission, said increased enforcement should go hand in hand with violence-prevention groups actively working in the community, and at least recently “that’s what I’ve seen.”

In 2008, there were 16 homicides in the Mission, according to Corrales. The following year, that number dropped to four.

This year, there has been one homicide — the Feb. 26 fatal shooting of 24-year-old Aldo Troncoso at 17th and Mission streets. No arrests have been made in the case.

While gang tensions might have eased in the Mission for now, Lt. Jim Miller, the head of the SFPD’s gang task force, cautioned that new members are always being sought.

“Unfortunately, they’re constantly getting recruited from schools, and dropouts too,” Miller said.

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