Total Pageviews

Monday, October 3, 2011

The rise of the Northern Riders

Since the late 1990's to present the U.S. Justice Department has vigorously went after the Nuestra Familia prison gang in an attempt to weaken and/or dismantle the organization's criminal element and hierarchy. In doing so it used Operations Valley Star & Black Widow to prosecute numerous Nuestra Familia leaders and associates. In 2005, the Nuestra Familia's top five leaders were sentenced to life in federal prison and sent to Colorado's "Super Max" prison in Florence, Colorado as a result of these operations.

But the governments crack down on the Nuestra Familia created chaos within the organization and led to a power struggle on the streets of California. Many members and associates became disenchanted with the politics and how the organization was functioning and as a result many began to drop-out. That exodus created a perfect storm for the emergence of the Northern Riders. In 2000, the first recorded presence of the Northern Riders within the California prison system took place on the yard of the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Ca. when Northern Riders gang member Maurice Vasquez declared war on Norteno inmates, according to California State Prison officials. Some argue that the Northern Riders originated in the Sacramento area. Whatever the case, they are in just about every SNY (Sensitive Needs Yard) facility in the California State Prison System and growing.

What separates this gang from others is it's plan to recruit drop-outs from both Norteno and rival street gangs according to an article in The Californian, a Monterey County newspaper, dated May 7, 2010. With the emergence of the Northern Riders on the streets of Northern California it will only mean more violence and more killings as they look to infiltrate long standing Norteno & Sureno turf. It is also an automatic death sentence according to Article III section V of the Nuestra Familia Constitution and punishable by death to be drop-out. A rule that both Nortenos and Northern Riders are aware of and assures more violence on the streets of Northern California.

In 2005, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer who presided over the federal case against the Nuestra Familia warned federal prosecutors just after sentencing the top leaders by saying,

"This was a very expensive prosecution, involving millions, Federal prison officials now, need to make sure they keep the gang from spreading throughout the country the way it spread through the Calfornia prison system. The responsibility for keeping the gang under control is now in the hands of the Federal Bureau of Prison."

Unfortunately, those fears have become reality and here we are six years later and the Nuestra Familia prison gang has split into two entities, a federal prison gang with national franchises throughout the country and a California state run entity with a grip on Northern California.  In addition to that it has also mutated into a third Northern Riders gang with growing influence and power within the California prison system. Hopefully history will not repeat itself as it has for other prison gangs that rose from the prison yards of California, but the government looks for new ways to stop the spread of all gangs.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Norteno-Sureno gang war

For over forty years now there has been a bloody war on the streets of California and other western states between the Norteno and Sureno street gangs that has claimed the lives of countless young Chicanos. There are no FBI stats to count the deaths related to this gang war, but one can guess that the numbers total in the thousands in a war that has raged on over the last forty years. This war can be traced back to the California prison system when members of La Nuestra Familia and the Mexican Mafia began a war, as legend has it, over a pair of sneakers. But the rivalry was really born out of a lack of respect by southern Mexican's over northern Mexican's that were viewed by southerners as nothing more than the sons of migrant farm laborers.

As the northern Hispanics gained numbers in the prison system they were constantly met with this label of farmeros (farmers). In time they would form their own gang, La Nuestra Familia, and claim the huelga bird flag of the United Farm Workers as their own and use it to identify themselves with the similar cause and struggle that the farm laborers under Cesar Chavez were engaged in. Today, this war rages as never before and many young Chicanos are dying as a result. In many cases its the innocent that are killed. And with each passing year the victims, whether they are participants or not, are getting younger and younger.

What many young people don't realize when they get involved in gangs is that this is not a video game or a movie. The stakes are real and it can cost you your life whether it's a prison cell or a plot at your local cemetery. If your convicted of a gang-related crime in California the law is very strict and D.A.'s and Judges have no sympathy for gang members. Gang enhancement laws in California were introduced to put gang members away for longer periods of time. If you're involved in a gang-related homicide you'll probably be sentenced to life in prison. Is it worth it? You'll never see the streets again. You'll never attend another family gathering in your life. You'll never be married and you'll never have kids. Your life will consist of razor wire fences, armed guards and four walls. If this sounds appealing to you then you're on the right path, but if it doesn't then change your course of direction today. It's your life.

Deadly drive-by claims another young victim in Stockton

Stockton- A 19-year-old man was killed in a drive-by in south Stockton just before 11 p.m. on Tuesday Sept. 28, 2011 . It marks Stockton's 39th homicide of the year and makes the month of September 2011 one of the deadliest. Since Aug. 31st there has been numerous homicides within a three mile radius and police have categorized those homicides as gang-related. The spot of last night's drive-by shooting, 8th St. & Port Trinity Circle, is within that three mile radius.

 Is there an end in sight? With Stockton's financial outlook it is very unlikely that gang violence will end on the streets of Stockton. What is the answer? Although we're in some hard financial times we need to find a way to put gang members and ex-felons to work. We need a serious jobs program in the San Joaquin valley. We need community and business leaders to come together and create a job training program and to encourage local businesses to hire ex-felons and gang members. It will keep them off the streets and give them a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

The San Joaquin county also needs to develop a juvenile gang prevention program and make it mandatory for juveniles on probation who are documented gang members or at-risk teens to attend. The program should educate teens on the pitfalls of gang participation and set up mentors to point these teens in the right direction. Will this abolish gang violence all together? No, but it will put a huge dent in crime committed in Stockton. Otherwise we will have the same old revolving door of crime and violence that Stockton has been plagued with over the past 30 years.