Local News

Wake County Cracking Down on 'Influx of Gangs'

Posted November 8, 2007

— Four suspects involved in a carjacking, police chase and deadly shooting are tied a Latino gang, according to authorities.

The one suspect who escaped from police custody for a day is in this country illegally, officials said.

Nelson Hernandez and two others connected to the crime are in jail. They are part of a small, but violent group that is getting the authorities’ attention.

When police surrounded an apartment in west Raleigh Tuesday night, they were looking for Hernandez. He was accused of a crime spree that started in Raleigh and ended in Durham with him escaping from a patrol car.

Something else got the attention of investigators, however. They say Hernandez and the other suspects in the case are members of the "Latin King Gang."

Sgt. Ray Rivera tracks gang activity for the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

“Like anywhere else in this country, we've seen an influx of gangs here in this area,” he said.

One of the main things investigators look for when they're trying to determine whether there's gang activity in a neighborhood is gang graffiti.

Raleigh police track individual gang members by filling out profiles. As of Thursday, they had identified 2,000 gang members. Six percent of those are Latino. Investigators said they are a small, but increasingly violent group.

Maj. Ken Mathias oversees gang units in the Raleigh Police Department.

“It starts out as kids playing around. But as potential gang members grow in the gang and become full-fledged gang members, so does the violence increase,” he said.

Officers say the key to stopping the violence is keeping teens out of gangs.

“The more you are involved in a young person's life, the less chance they have of going the wrong way. I mean, that's the bottom line,” Rivera said.

"The emerging gang problem is one that the police department is not going to be able to solve by arresting people," Mathias said. "We can't arrest our way out of this problem."

Raleigh police said they're working to break down language and cultural barriers that make it difficult to investigate the cases.


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  • kodak digi cam Nov 10, 2007

    I believe all gang members are terrorists, homegrown terrorists. We as parents have the responsibility to raise and guide our children on the righteous and moral path in order for them to become successful individuals in this dog eat dog world. Those teenagers should have been at home, reading a book, getting ready for the next school day. Who should feel bad for teen who was killed??? These gangs are menaces to the world in which we live. Any parent who knowingly defends their gang banging child's actions/behavior, needs to be incarcerated right beside their beloved children!

  • Like that Nov 9, 2007

    So what is being done about the other 94%? Just because the other 6% are easier to discover because of race doesn't not mean that they should be the only group targeted. This means that some dectectives are going to get out there and do some digging instead of taking the easy targets.

  • JohnB2012 Nov 9, 2007

    "Only 6% of the 2000 gang members they have on file are hispanic. Everyone blames everything on illegal immigrants."

    The key words here are "on file".

    This illegal immigrant situation is contributing to the local gang problem and will do it more so in the future. How many of the kids in our schools now are illegal aliens? Yes, by law we have to put them through high school at taxpayer expense but what happens when they graduate?? No passport, no social security number = no job or at least not a legal job. They become ripe candidates for gang involvement.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Nov 9, 2007

    Raleigh Police are simply prioritizing. They choose to go after violent criminals first. I really get the feeling that some people hate illegal immigrants so much that they'll ignore whatever facts they have to in order to demonize them.

    6% of the identified gang members is not even close to the root of the problem. Now I understand that a couple of the hispanic gangs are the most violent, so the Police should focus on catch those who have committed violent crimes.

    Don't think I like illegal immigrants, I just don't hate them because of their race or economic and immigration status. It annoys me that we provide social services to people who come here illegally, but I'm not going to throw good money after bad trying to catch the many who are just trying to work.

  • iamforjustice Nov 9, 2007

    We have a war right here in America and our military is out fighting overseas for whatever reason and they need to be here helping out with drugs, crime and illegals getting here adding to a nation of poverty and crime. America is so screwed up. We need a real president for once and for all. A real man that can stand up and enough is enough. I am tired of seeing mothers crying because some crack head needed some money and killed her child for a dollar. I want a president to say..no more to illegals coming here, driving drunk with no license and killing innocent people. I am tired of drug dealers in my neighborhood selling to my neighbors getting them addicted and then they break into my house and rob me. Drugs that got here from some foreign country. When can we have a true president that will say enough is enough. I can chase drug dealers out of my neighborhood all day long...I want them out of my country.

  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 9, 2007

    ifcdirector: Wake County Sheriffs Dept has just been approve the hiring of 12 deputies to help in the identification and deportation of the illegals.

    The article said that Hispanics represents 6%. If we sent every illegal home, we'd still have 94% of the gang population left. Maybe more given that not all Hispanics here are illegal.

  • UpwardlyMobile Nov 9, 2007

    yankeennc - I agree. There is something going on with the way we are raising our children. I get so annoyed by the bad behavior of some of the children I have to be around at times that I don't even want to be around them or their parents. These kids have a total lack of respect for their elders, authority, etc... If your children start out like that at 3 years old, what can a teacher tell them when they're teens?

  • Nancy Nov 9, 2007

    I firmly believe that if parents were legally held responsible for their underage children's actions, people would at least begin to pay more attention to what/where/when/who their kids were spending time.

    Until that happens, there will be NOTHING to stop the flow of kids getting involved in criminal activity - they're too stupid and the parents won't be taken to jail. Where is the motivation to stop the crime?

  • AKA PikeMom Nov 9, 2007

    Many of these parents have a straw stuck up their nose,and can't take care of themselves,let alone kids.If you have managed to get into a gang,I say it's too late for you and your pasrents to show the world much of anything good.
    So to all you gang bangers and low life parents,I say,good riddance.If you are NOT part of the "good" in our society,then you are taking up space.

  • tbajr Nov 9, 2007

    Maj. Mathias said, "The emerging gang problem is one that the
    police dept is not going to be able to solve by arresting people". Maybe law enforcement should stop arresting drug users
    since that hasn't solved the problem in over forty years either!