South Mountain community plagued by violence, efforts being done to curb it

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the South Mountain community held a meeting asking the Phoenix Police Department to be more present in the community to help stop the recent violent crime plaguing their neighborhood.

That following weekend, 140 arrests were made as part of Operation Snake Eyes on Sept. 26. Now, the community is speaking out on law enforcement efforts.

Predominately in the South Mountain area, the Commander of the Phoenix Police South Mountain Precinct said that they're taking steps to make the community safer for all. 

Cynthia Lazaro, a community activist and founder of Helping Hands, a nonprofit organization helping at-risk youth stay out of trouble, says she was very pleased with the arrests and didn't know that it was going to happen so soon.

"Crime affects us all, so when they're apprehended from other parts of the valley, that's going to affect this community as well. This is where I have been planted. I am here to bring the community together. I hope those arrests last night is just the beginning of this community healing," Lazaro said.

Authorities say there is still so much work to be done to make neighborhoods safer, but this is a good start.

Residents are grateful for the efforts so far by law enforcement. Community members are also encouraged to take part in reporting crime in the community.

"It is my hope that there are several programs in town that will decrease the violence and that's my hope. Especially the young people that were apprehended," Lazaro said.

Because of mandates, she hasn't been able to hold any programs, helping to keep kids off the streets. She is hoping soon the mandates will be lifted and she can get back to her passion of helping others.

"We're directed toward youth as we're called to at-risk youth to employ them, encourage them and motivating positive leadership to youth through the Damien Gosa Foundation with after school programs and yearly events," Lazaro said.

Of the 140 arrests in the operation, 51 of them were gang members. Authorities also seized 131 firearms, $145,831 in cash and 3,027 counterfeit fentanyl pills, according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Service.