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Gangs In San Diego’s North County

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFrVP2SXYcE

Video published October 8, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: As part of our ongoing series, San Diego Gang Stories, KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis tells us how gangs are affecting lives in all corners of the North County.

Gloria Penner (Host): Some might consider San Diego's North County to be an area of scenic coastlines, quaint main streets and suburban homes. But police say underneath that pleasant exterior lies a severe gang problem. As part of our ongoing series, San Diego Gang Stories, KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis tells us how gangs are affecting lives in all corners of the North County. Her story begins in Oceanside.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

SOME MIGHT CONSIDER SAN DIEGO'S NORTH COUNTY AN AREA OF SCENIC COASTLINES, QUAINT MAIN STREETS, SUBURBAN HOMES BUT UNDERNEATH THAT PLEASANT EXTERIOR LIES A SEVERE GANG PROBLEM. AS PART OF OUR ONGOING SERIES, ANNA TELLS US HOW GANGS ARE EFFECTING LIVES IN ALL CORNERS OF NORTH COUNTY THE STORY BEGINS IN OCEANSIDE. [ MUSIC ]

Reporter: THIS IS MY NEIGHBOURHOOD.

MARIA RUSSELL HAS LIVED IN HERE EAST OCEANSIDE HOME FOR 8 YEARS HER NAME IS NICKNAMED AFTER A MEXICAN SOUP.

THERE WAS A WOMAN IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD THAT WOULD CARRY HER LITTLE RED WAGON AND SELL SOUP AND SHE WOULD CALL IT. SO IT HAS A SWEET CONNOTATION TO IT.

Reporter: IT HAS ANOTHER MEANING. BARRIO IS THE NAME OF THE STREET GAME IN HER NEIGHBOURHOOD ONE OF 13 GAMES THEY TAG THEIR INITIALS ON MAIL BOXES FENCES AND WALLS.

I SEE SOME OF THE KIDS, SOME OF THE OLDER YOU KNOW, MEN THAT HAVE PROBABLY LIKE RECORDS HANGING OUT ON STREET CORNERS AND LOOKING A LITTLE SUSPICIOUS LIKE WAITING. WHAT DO YOU CALL IT, THEY HAVE A CERTAIN CALL LIKE A WHISTLE, TO WARN EACH OTHER I GUESS THE POLICE IS COMING OR SOMETHING LIKE THIS. SO YOU CAN TELL THERE IS SOMETHING GOING ON.

Reporter: NORTH COUNTY GANG TASK FORCE SAYS THERE ARE CLOSE TO 30 DOCUMENTED GANGS IN NORTH COUNTY HALF OF THOSE ARE IN OCEANSIDE ESCONDIDO HAS THE SECOND HIGH E.G. NUMBER WITH FOUR GANGS -- HIGHEST NUMBER WITH FOUR GANGS. THEY WERE FORMED YEARS AGO TO PROTECT CERTAIN ETHNIC GROUPS OTHERS ARE TRANSPLANTS FROM LOS ANGELES. POLICE AND GANG MEMBERS SAY THESE GROUPS ARE PRESENT IN ALMOST EVERY CITY.

THE BEACH, THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE ENTIRE COAST YOU KNOW, IT IS GETTING BAD YOU KNOW, SAN MARCO, ESCONDIDO.

Reporter: JOSE IS A DOCUMENTED GANG MEMBER IN OCEANSIDE HE ASKED US NOT TO USE HIS REAL NAME HE FEARS RETALIATION. JOSE WAS BORN INTO A GANG FAMILY HE WAS KNOWN AS A MANIAC, THE CRAZY ONE.

YEAH, NO ONE GOING OUT THERE WHEN YOU GOING TO DO STUFF YOU HAVE A CHANCE FOR DIEING AND YOU GOT TO ACCEPT THAT AND KNOW YOU ARE DOING IT FOR YOUR CAUSE YOU KNOW. FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE I CALL IT THE COMMUNITY OUR COMMUNITY. OUR STREETS YOU KNOW, WE DON'T WANT PEOPLE COMING OVER AND LIKE CHASING DOWN A MEXICAN AND BEATLING HIM UP BECAUSE HE IS MEXICAN. THAT IS A LOT OF THESE PEOPLE BUT THEY TAKE IT TOO FAR YOU KNOW.

Reporter: JOSE SAYS GANGS ARE ABOUT PROTECTING THEIR MONEY NOT NARY TURF NORTH COUNTY GANGS ARE CRIMINAL ENTERPRISES SMUGGLING WEAPONS, PUSHING PROSTITUTES, DEALING DRUGS. OLDER GANG MEMBERS ARE RECRUITING KIDS AT YOUNGER AGES TO DO DIRTY WORK.

SAYING ALL GET THEM WHILE THEY ARE YOUNG YOU KNOW BECAUSE THAT IS WHEN THEY CAN --GET THEM USED TO GOING TO JUVENILE HALL AND GOING TO PRISON. THERE IS A SAYING GET THEM WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG.

ONE WAY POLICE ARE TRYING TO STOP RECRUITING AND VIOLENCE IS THROUGH THE USE OF GANG INJUNCTIONS THEY BAN GANGS FROM CONGREGATING IN THEIR NEIGHBOURHOODS THEY ARE DISPURSING TO OTHER AREAS IN NORTH COUNTY RESULTING IN TURF WARS AND HYBRID GANGS SOME ARE COMMITTING CRIMES ALONG THE COAST. CARLSBAD ALL HAVE THEIR OWN GANGS TO CONTEND WITH.

AGAIN, YOU KNOW, I THINK PEOPLE DON'T RECOGNIZE THAT THERE IS AN ISSUE HERE, BECAUSE THERE IS THAT IDEA THAT WE LIVE BY THE COAST AND WE ARE REALLY MELLOW AND WE ARE --BUT WE DO HAVE IT.

ANGIE IS IN CHARGE OF A STUDENT LEADERSHIP PROGRAM CALLED HAVING A VOICE. NOT ALL YOUNG KIDS WHO JOIN GANGS COME FROM BROKEN HOMES OR POOR NEIGHBOURHOODS. SHE SAYS THERE IS WHITE SAW PREMIES GANGS IN SUBURBAN COMMUNITIES. SHE BELIEVES IT COMES DOWN TO HAVING A LOVING HOME FOR KIDS, SAFE PLACES TO HANG OUT AND PARENTS WHO ARE TRULY ENGAGED.

A LOT OF OUR PARENTS ARE EXHAUSTED TO DO THAT. YOU KNOW, OH, GOSH I GOT TO HANG OUT WITH ALL THESE KIDS AND HAVE ALL THIS ENERGY, NO, GO HANG IN THE STREET AND KIDS WILL DO THAT. BEFORE YOU KNOW IT THEY ARE VIOLATING CURFEW, THERE MAY BE DRUG INVOLVEMENT, SUBSTANCE ABUSES GOING ON.

GROSS CLOSE SAYS SOME FAMILIES STILL DON'T BELIEVE THERE IS A GANG THREAT ALONG THE COAST. FOR ITS PART, THE NORTH COUNTY GANG TASK FORCE IS TRYING TO TAKE A REGIONAL APPROACH TO GANG ACTIVITY, WHICH WORKS BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF A CITY.

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