Local News

Authorities See Rise In Hispanic Gang Activity In Wake County

Posted February 22, 2005 4:14 a.m. EST

— Raleigh and Wake County authorities are seeing an increase in gang violence and in the number of Hispanic gangs.

Raleigh police said four people in a car fired shots Monday at a crowd outside the Fox Ridge Manor Apartments. A 4-year-old was injured when a bullet hit her in the leg. Police arrested three men and one woman. They came to court sporting tattoos which law enforcement said show gang membership.

According to a 2004 Raleigh police report, investigators said the number of Hispanic gangs in the city has tripled in five years.

People who live at the Fox Ridge Manor apartment complex are very concerned about gang violence.

"I just don't feel safe out here," resident Meisha Mattison said. "I heard a lot about Hispanic gangs and I really try not to come out at night."

"I have to move because this place is dangerous for the babies, the kids," resident Fernando Ramirez said.

Wake County Sheriff's investigator Walter Martin said people can no longer write off gangs in the area as "wannabes."

"The philosophy that's being taught now in gang investigator schools is if they think they are, they are and you treat them accordingly," he said.

According to the Governor's Crime Commission in 2004, there were 387 gangs in North Carolina with more than 8,500 members. Mecklenburg, Wake, Pitt, Harnett, and Union counties report the most gangs. The commission identified 39 separate gangs in Wake County alone.