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Kearns gang member tops public enemy list

Published: Sunday, July 18 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

A member of a Kearns street gang has been named this week's Public Enemy No. 1 by the Salt Lake Area Gang Project.

Joe Mario Velarde, 33, has several warrants out for his arrest, including one from the U.S. Marshals Service. His criminal history includes more than 30 arrests ranging from burglary to theft to drugs.

His name has also come up several times in an investigation related to gun activity, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Bill Robertson.

"He's involved in some firearms transactions," Robertson said. "It's only a matter of time before he does something stupid. We definitely want to get him off the street."

Velarde is 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. He has his last name, "Velarde," tattooed on his left hand, a parrot tattooed on his left forearm and several other tattoos on his right arm.

Velarde sometimes goes by the alias Mario Tafoya, Robertson said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the gang unit at 743-7000.

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