Gangs of Orange County

Anders Howmann (Daily Titan) | May 04, 2011

Gangs have an extensive history in Orange County, yet many common people do not see what is in plain view.

“Due to the fact that we have the gangs in our city, about 80 percent of the crime is done by 2 percent of the (criminals) that live in the city,” said Detective Jose Uceda of the Placentia Police Department’s Special Enforcement Detail.

Indeed, gang crime is significant, with more than 50 percent of Orange County district attorney’s murder cases and 60 percent of attempted murders prosecuted by the Gang & TARGET Units, according to blankistant District Attorney John Anderson, supervisor of the Office’s Gang Unit.

“Street gangs in Southern California are loosely controlled by the Mexican Mafia prison gang, who ‘tax’ the profits on local street gang drug sales. The Mexican Mafia is able to control the streets by controlling the custodial facilities where many gang members end up. The fear of in-custody retaliation is enough to gain compliance by the street gangs,” said Anderson.

With some of the more organized groups, one might be fooled into thinking gang crime is strictly a teenager’s game.

“A lot of the problems are caused by the juvies, but that’s because the gangsters use the juveniles to do all the crimes, because they know … juveniles don’t go to prison,” Uceda said. “If they don’t see that gang unit on the streets, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, you start losing it.”

Placentia is a small city of about 50,000, but if you live in the northern part of town, you may not know anything at all about a gang problem. Gang members don’t recognize city boundaries, so neighboring police departments must have close collaborative efforts, said Sgt. Andrew Goodrich of the Fullerton Police Department.

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