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Friday, February 2, 2007

Fact Check

posted by on February 2 at 11:12 AM

A story in the P-I announces disturbing news about a new gang in our area: a drug dealer arrested as part of a small-ish local bust by the ATF “allegedly belongs to the Norteno street gang. The mostly Hispanic gang is rooted in California but has extended its presence and illicit drug dealing into Washington…” Eek!

Here’s my issue: the term Norteņo is very unspecific. Norteņo is more of a classification, a perceived allegiance or alliance. It’s not one gang with a clear leadership and organization. The P-I story furthers a law enforcement myth that these gangs work like a super secret scary brown mafia. The drug trade is real—and a lot of these guys are involved in it. But it’s not like a lieutenant in a California prison is ordering drug sales in Yakima. And Norteņo gangs aren’t a new presence, here or in California.

The Norteņos began as Nuestra Familia at Soledad State Prison and grew to control another No. Cal prison at Pelican Bay. The gang started back in the 1970s to offer protection from their natural rivals, the Sureņos, So. Cal prison-bred sets tied to the Mexican Mafia (which is not the mafia in Mexico but a prison-based gang). (The gangs did not form, as the P-I states, because of a split in the Mexican Mafia.) Since then, the gangs have spread and diversified. When Latino thugs decide to align themselves with a gang somewhere in the United States, they often choose between Norteņo and Sureņo — and then add their own local flavor. There’s an endless list of specific gangs tied to one or the other, and often one Norteņo will fight another if they’re in a different clique.


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Please.. "clique".

Posted by meggo | February 2, 2007 11:42 AM

Yes. You're right. Clique. In Spanish it is, I think, clicka, which is why I was so sloppy. I am a bad speller in all languages.

Posted by Angela Valdez | February 2, 2007 12:09 PM

Sounds kinda like the way terrorism is perceived.

Posted by Noink | February 2, 2007 1:05 PM

Norteņo's are one of the two gangs that control trafficking in the Mission district here in San Francisco. I obviously can't speak for how well organized they are nationally or on their inner workings, but they are very real. They're at the opposite end of my neighborhood, the Sureņo's run that stuff on my end - but I know the tags.

Posted by Dougsf | February 2, 2007 1:31 PM

So a Latin King is which? Or is it not going to be that clear cut?

Posted by PA Native | February 2, 2007 1:50 PM

They're neither. Norteņos and Sureņos are Mexican (Norteņos more often Chicano). Latin Kings are Puerto Rican. Chicago. NYC.

Posted by Angela Valdez | February 2, 2007 2:12 PM

Latin King Nations ( born in Chicago) Amor de Rey! King Love, has sets all over, mostly in NYC, Philly and Jersey, but are now nation wide. They are neither Norte or Sur, they are mostly Puerto Ricans, and colors are black and gold. They are different and that they maintain the name Latin King, and dont fight each other, but theyre a lot smaller than the 13 and Norte cats. Tats are usually crowns. or some variations of Amor de Rey. They kind of made a small effort some years back into becoming somewhat political in New York, but that kind of fell through, the Kings claimed it was the cops who destroyed their efforts, law enforcement claim that it was all a farce but it was a little of both. Their east coast enemies are the Bloods. They have allies throught out Chicago. They were formed to fight the Gay Lords( yep thats a name) which was a white gang in Chicago who use to boast about being Spick Killers. The Latin Kings also fought the Cobras and other gangs as well as Mexican gangs in Chicago. It became a mess when so many gangs and sets took over Chicago. The Kings in California include other nationalities other than Puerto Rican, They dont really have an alliance with the east coast but just kind of took over the name. but back east they remain Boricuas.

Posted by SeMe | February 2, 2007 2:13 PM

I was actually under the impression that the two afformentioned gangs here in the Mission were largely El Salvadorian, as is the neighborhood. Again, my input is completely anecdotal, but that seems to be a conception people I've had conversations with have around here.

Anyways, yeah, I can't speak on how they are organized, but as with any group of lost young men and boys, they are responsable for a serious ammount of local violence that's no joke.

Posted by Dougsf | February 2, 2007 2:28 PM

yes, El Salvadorian's are a part of both Norteņos and Sureņos - the decision to join either gang is more about how long you've lived in the US, like if your born and raised here you are gonna be with the Norte but if you've just come over, regardless if it's Mexico or El Salvador - you're gonna join the Sur.. at least that's my recollection from High School in California...

Posted by S | February 2, 2007 2:41 PM

Probably true. My understanding here in the neighborhood is that the geography is very specific. I don't remember the street numbers that devide the turf, but I believe that's how it's decided.

Posted by Dougsf | February 2, 2007 2:53 PM

Youre right, Salvadoreņos as individuals can join whatever set they want, but the gang Mara Salvatrucha 13 ( MS-13) is sureņa identified since it was founded in Pico Union LA, thus the 13 identifier after MS. MS 13 never wears red. Its funny because the Mara Salvatrucha does not align themselves with Mexican Mafia which is the founder of 13 sur, and are sworn enemies of the biggest LA gangs 18th Street as well as the oldest East LA gang White Fence. Back in da day, the Mission was pretty much all Norteno,but Sureņos are all over the place now, and theyre pretty much the biggest presence in San Jose, San Leandro, Oakland and all other areas around the bay. Norte (14) has a bigger presence in Sacramento, Salinas, Vallejo, Bakersfield, but they still have a presence in the Mission, specially in the area around Excelsior and other areas leading to Daly City. Before it was taken over by white punk rockers, hipsters and other types the area from 16th and Valencia Street all the way to 18th was all Norteno. Most of the area around 24th and Mission all the way to Alabama St was part of PVL's Puente Vista Locos which was an old norteno set, but theyre all gone, most in Soledad state prison. Cuete, one of the main liutenants of nuestra Familia is from that area. Punk rockers and skater types started moving in that area in the 80's and then lately theyve been pushed out by dot commers and others. Everybody pushes.

Posted by SeMe | February 2, 2007 3:00 PM

Interesting SeMe. Are you from the area or is this from reading on the topic?

Posted by Dougsf | February 2, 2007 3:26 PM

in a weird sort of way this is making me miss the Bay Area.. Seattle is so white!

Posted by S | February 2, 2007 3:49 PM

I lived there for a year and some change, I moved there from Philly. I lived in the 14th St. Valencia Projects. I dont know if theyre still there. Went to Mission High. Sold weed on Dolores Park right by the where the J church Trolley stopped.. Worked at the old Doggy Diner on 18th and Mission. Sold weed on the Tenderloin too. Got jumped on Army St by the old Cesar's Palace. Had a girlfriend on Dorland St. I remember there use to be a pinball place on 18th and Guerrero, where we use to hang out, it was owned by this old greek dude named Ted. It amazes me everytime I go back how expensive and different that place has gotten. My friend's house on Dorland st. was sold like for 2 million bucks and I remember they were poor as hell back then. I get the same feeling when I go back to Philly. though is not nearly as expensive as San Fran. I was talking to a friend how dramatically ciies change. She said the same of her old hometown, that it use to be really red neck and now is all fleece wearing yuppies.

Posted by SeMe | February 2, 2007 3:56 PM

that's why I had to move to Seattle! I could never have bought a house in Cali..

Posted by S | February 2, 2007 4:09 PM

I'm from Yakima and I can say for a fact the Nortenos have been active in Eastern Washington for about 15 years. I have not noticed them to much in the Greater Seattle area but their number one rival the Surenos gang has strong roots in many of the Puget Sound hispanic neighborhoods.

Posted by Brad | February 3, 2007 5:15 PM

SeMe, there is new low-income housing on the site of those old projects, which were torn down around 2002ish - similiar to what they did in Lower Haight in the 90's. I'm just on Minna around the corner from there.

Posted by Dougsf | February 4, 2007 5:02 PM

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