3 men arrested in tagging spree near La Mesa

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arrest LA MESA – Three young men suspected in a string of tagging incidents in downtown La Mesa’s Village area were arrested early today, police said.

Jose Lopez, 18, of La Mesa, Alex Avila, 19, of Spring Valley, and Santino Castaneda, 18, of Chula Vista, were taken into custody at about midnight, La Mesa police Sgt. Jim Huggins said. They were booked into jail on suspicion of felony vandalism, according to online jail records.

Officers were called to the 8100 block of La Mesa Boulevard by a witness who reporting the graffiti was taking place, and they pulled over a vehicle, Huggins said.

Officers recovered spray paint from the vehicle and saw one of the occupant’s hand splattered with paint, according to the sergeant. The witness also helped identify the three suspects, Huggins said.

Several buildings in the Village area, along with a restaurant at 70th Street and University Avenue, had been damaged in the alleged tagging spree, Huggins said. The cleanup costs were not yet known, but Huggins expected the total to be in the thousands of dollars. Huggins said police were searching for additional graffiti victims.

Police asked anyone with further information to call them at (619) 667-1400.

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