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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    CA: Police: Gang activity increasing in Barrio Carlsbad

    http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/01 ... _27_07.txt

    Police: Gang activity increasing in Barrio Carlsbad

    By: YVETTE URREA and BARBARA HENRY - Staff Writers

    CARLSBAD ---- An increase in assaults, street robberies and graffiti in the city's Barrio area south of downtown reflects what police said last week is an upturn in gang-related crime over the last several years.

    Police officers in this coastal city, which takes pride in its reputation for having few gang issues, noticed a slight increase in the crimes in 2005 which continued into 2006, Detective Bryan Hargett said.

    For example, in 2005, police recorded 165 aggravated assaults citywide; last year, the number grew to 240, said police spokeswoman Lynn Diamond. As well, reports of vandalism, which include graffiti, climbed from 381 in 2005 to 579 in 2006, Diamond said.

    "We don't have a serious gang problem, but the problem we have identified, we do take seriously," police Lt. Kelly Cain said.

    Such was the case, police reported, of a black teenager who was attacked in November during what police described as a racially motivated assault by six Latino teenagers in the area of Tamarack Avenue and Jefferson Street, and a rash of graffiti recently at Jefferson Elementary School.

    Police Capt. Bill Rowland said that the identification of gang-related crime is based on police observations of the suspects involved in the crimes and the location of the crimes. Police do not track gang-related crimes statistically, he said.

    Hargett said that since mid-2006, police have arrested 18 documented gang members and that, along with stepped-up patrols, have led to a downturn in the number of crimes recently.

    "It's definitely quieted down in the last two to three months, but we are not (relaxing) our enforcement," said Hargett.

    Since the 1970s, Carlsbad police say they have documented two gangs in the city, a Latino gang called the Varrio Carlsbad Locos, and what's believed to be the now-defunct Shadow Crew, a gang made up predominantly of young white men.

    By comparison, Oceanside is said by police officials to have 12 gangs with roughly 621 documented members, and an additional 450 associates ---- people who are linked to the gang but are not documented members.

    A documented gang member is someone who has been observed and documented by a law-enforcement officer to have met at least two criteria on a state Department of Justice list.

    Some of the criteria include admitting gang membership, being arrested while participating in a crime with known gang members, being identified as a gang member by a reliable informant or source, and identification as a gang member by an informant that is corroborated by independent information.

    Community reaction to gangs

    People who live in the city's Barrio area say they've noticed that gang-related graffiti is on the rise.

    Michael Hedrick, who has lived on Madison Street for nearly six years, said he had seen more graffiti on walls, fence posts and utility boxes in the last year than ever before. Some of the spray-painted messages aren't readable, but others have included the names of known gangs, he said.

    His son attends Jefferson Elementary School, which was hit with graffiti recently, he added.

    Socorro Anderson, a businesswoman, said she too has seen more graffiti and is hearing stories of young people asking older Barrio area residents for money, then beating them up if they don't quickly hand over their cash.

    "If they don't get the money, then they take it anyway," she said. "I've heard of several reports of that, and that's quite depressing, actually."

    What's particularly sad is that the victims often don't report the incidents, she said, commenting that she believes Latinos are traditionally wary of police and hesitant to report crimes.

    Policing the neighborhood

    Connie Trejo, who co-owns Lola's Market & Deli with her sister, Ofie Escobedo, said one of her older customers came in badly beaten one day and told her a gang of young people had attacked him.

    It makes her sad, she said, because she thinks she may know some of the people who have been involved in the recent incidents. She and her sister own one of the oldest businesses in the area and have long been active in community affairs, including helping organize the region's annual September fiesta.

    "These kids, they do disappoint us sometimes," Trejo said. "The kids are so respectful when they come here to us. That's why it's so surprising to hear that so-and-so is in jail."

    Anderson said she's planning a meeting next month with area property owners to discuss the increase in criminal activity and what can be done about it.

    "What I'm working on is trying to get the property owners to do more policing in the neighborhood," she said.

    She said she was also working with Barrio-area property owner Mario Monroy on a proposal to ease building standards in the area so that more developers might be tempted to build projects in one of North County's oldest neighborhoods.

    Bringing in new development might offer the side benefit of reducing criminal activity in blighted parts of the Barrio, she said.

    Sacred territory?

    The Boys & Girls Club has its main clubhouse on Roosevelt Street in the heart of the Barrio area, but it hasn't been hit with gang graffiti or other vandalism, said Ron Sipiora, the club's chief professional officer. That's not surprising, he added.

    "Usually, they kind of leave the club alone because it's kind of sacred territory," he said.

    Sipiora said he's had the same experience working at Boys & Girls Club facilities in other communities and said he believes that gang members have a soft spot for the organization ---- they may have a brother or sister who attends, or they may have been club members at one time.

    The club, along with its counterparts in Vista, San Marcos and Oceanside, already has a "Gangbusters" program aimed at combating the increase in gang activity, Sipiora said.

    Through the efforts of club counselors, teens who appear to be tempted by the gang lifestyle, as well those who have been convicted of gang-related crimes, are encouraged to seek other more positive ways of using their abilities, he said.

    "The attempt is to integrate them into our program, rather than into the negatives outside the walls," he said.

    Carlsbad had 18 of the 400 participants in the regional Gangbusters program in the last year, he added.

    Youth coming of age

    Two years ago, the North County Regional Gang Task Force reported that the Varrio Carlsbad Locos had 74 documented gang members and associates.

    As of 2007, the Varrio Carlsbad Locos has increased in number to 115, including about 100 documented gang members and associates, Hargett said.

    The gang includes at least three generations of family members, though most of the active members range in ages from 16 to 22, Hargett said.

    The surge in membership and crimes is a result of a new generation of teenagers reaching the age of gang membership, Hargett said. Additionally, the younger members are trying to prove their loyalty to the gang and earn a reputation on the street, Hargett said.

    The Carlsbad gang uses and deals drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana, Hargett said. Gang members also commit robberies with and without weapons, and they burglarize homes and vehicles, he said.

    One gang gone

    The main territory for the Varrio Carlsbad Locos is south of Carlsbad Village Drive, west of Interstate 5, and north of Tamarack Avenue, but the gang members venture out of that neighborhood to commit crimes in other parts of the city and in other cities, Hargett said.

    He said police do not believe there are any competing gangs in the city at this time. For the most part, the gang's victims are random people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, as opposed to gang-on-gang violence, Hargett said.

    The Shadow Crew, which police say has disbanded following the arrest and conviction of several of its members, dates to at least March 2005, Hargett said.

    The mostly white gang had 10 documented gang members, all of whom are now in prison or whose cases are pending, as well as an undetermined number of associates, Hargett said.

    The members ranged in age from 18 to 25 years and were all former La Costa Canyon High School students who stole guns and targeted victims for murder, according to North County Gang Task Force Detective Rich Eaton.

    Police response

    Police are refocusing their efforts to fight the increase in gang crime, Hargett said.

    "We're really looking at maximum enforcement with zero tolerance with any gang-related crime," he said.

    Carlsbad has two gang officers ---- Hargett and another person who is assigned to the North County Regional Gang Task Force. The city also enlists the help of its regular patrol officers and other detectives. The beat officers have all undergone training on how to document gang members, Hargett said.

    The gang officers also work closely with Carlsbad and La Costa Canyon high schools' resource officers and train teachers to recognize gang writing and lingo, he said.

    Of the 18 gang arrests Carlsbad police made in 2006, officers arrested six documented gang members on suspicion of attacking a black teenager. Two other gang members were arrested during two police sweeps held in the Barrio area.

    Police also arrested two documented Carlsbad gang members on suspicion of committing a home invasion robbery in Oceanside and two more for street robberies.

    Carlsbad is employing methods used by Oceanside and Escondido police to combat gangs such as sweeps, but isn't considering seeking a gang injunction, Hargett said. A gang injunction is granted by the court to restrict named gang members within a geographical area from doing specific things such as congregating, wearing gang attire and committing crimes.

    "The level our gang is at doesn't warrant an injunction at this time, but it's always an option," Hargett said.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member swatchick's Avatar
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    The gang problem has been getting worse since the illegals kept coming from Central America. MS 13 is only here due to migrants bringing their teenage kids here with them. People from countries with corrupt governments, civil wars, etc. are used to that kind of lifestyles and bring that with them. Now there are many off shoots of MS 13 and other Hispanic gangs.
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  3. #3
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Yes, the gang problem across America is becoming a rapidly spreading epidemic. And I do not have much faith in our soft-feel-good legislators to do much about it. Oh, they'll talk about programs and such but what is needed are strong aggressive leaders, a trait sorely lacking in our society nowadays.
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    Senior Member swatchick's Avatar
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    Too many people want power and do what they can to get it. That is modern day politics unfortunately.
    As I have said before unless a politician, their immediate family member or some other big shot gets caught in the crossfire, then nothing much will be done about it. They don't care if the police get shot or killed. Late last year 2 illegals were in the car with a person who shot one Broward County Sheriff's Deputy and killed another. They have not yet fully released information regarding any involvement by the illegals beisdes being in the car at the time. There was talk that there were 2 shooters as 2 guns were used. There was no real outrage about the illegals in the media what so ever. Yet when an illegal Guatamalan was killed in a robbery then it made front page news and the article went on to say how hard he was working and how he sent monye back home to his family, bought them a refrigerator and how the kids were going to private school. It went on to say that the refrigerator and some furniture he got them was on a payment plan and how the kids will have to go to a regular school and the hardships they will experience. Yet the deputy who was killed had a wife and three children and there was no talk about how the family will struggle.
    This really makes me sick.
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