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Teenagers' gang disturbs West Roxbury

A band of West Roxbury youths calling themselves the Fruits and Vegetables Gang have attacked several other teenagers in recent weeks, police and a city councilor said yesterday.

About two dozen 16- and 17-year olds from West Roxbury are being investigated in connection with several assaults in that neighborhood, said Sergeant Thomas Sexton, a Police Department spokesman.

Sexton said arrests have been made in some of the assaults. He also said West Roxbury district police are working closely with the families of some of the teenagers to try to keep them out of trouble.

Councilor John Tobin, who represents the neighborhood, said the group emerged more than a year ago and was initially snickered at because of its name and because West Roxbury has traditionally not been home to violent gangs.

But Tobin said in the past couple of months he has become so concerned that he asked Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole and Superintendent Robert Dunford for help in getting the youths under control. Tobin said that in recent days police have begun cracking down on the gang.

''The laughter and snickering has been replaced by a great deal of concern," Tobin said. ''It's gone beyond typical teenage stuff. . . . There have been a few kids who have been dealt pretty vicious beatings."

Tobin said that he has been inundated with phone calls from parents whose children are frightened of the gang members.

He said many of them attend Catholic Memorial High School, Latin Academy, and Boston Latin. He said the gang took its name because several of the youths have worked in produce departments at grocery stores. At least one of the gang members is the child of a police officer, two law enforcement sources said yesterday.

''The police know who they are, and the kids know the police know who they are," Tobin said. ''We don't want to be in a position where the day after a kid's been killed we say it's too late."

Suzanne Smalley can be reached at ssmalley@globe.com.

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