Tackling the North State's gang culture

Nov 26, 2014 5:24 PM by News Staff

Authorities with Chico's gang unit say the area is on the verge of a bigger more organized gang presence then ever, a concerning thought given the fact that these gangs make their mark in the North State through drug operations and violent crimes.

Last month when gang-related a shooting broke out in a north Chico parking lot, community members called on local authorities to do more. Detectives say one of the Asian gangs involved in the shooting was the Hmong Nation Society, but what detectives say most people in Chico don't realize is how many gangs there actually are. The group responsible for last month's shootout is merely a blip on the map in an area with an ever growing gang presence.

Motorcycle gangs like "Hellbent", white supremisist groups, Nortenos, Surrenos... those are just a few of the gangs with an active presence in Chico, and now the Crips are making a comeback and feuding with the Nortenos.

Detectives with the Chico Gang Unit say despite the efforts of law enforcement, gangs will never be policed out of existence. Detectives say behind the street gangs are prison gangs that maintain more influence on the street than most would ever imagine. One detective told Action News Now "Our version of the mob are prison gangs, and in northern California that means the "Nuestra Familia".

Detectives say one of their biggest priorities is educating the public about Chico's gang problem. The more people know about a gang, the safer than can be.

In Gridley, Sergeant Scott Smallwood says gangs are finally getting the attention they didn't 10 years ago. Smallwood said back then it seemed as though there was a gang-related shooting every week. Today gang activity remains a constant, but the violence has calmed.

Smallwood says his department has been able to combat the violence by being aggressive, even to the point of pestering known gang members with speeding tickets. Smallwood says gangs are like bullies, "we all stand together and show them that we're going to stand up and we're going to fight, we're not going to let them do that to our community, that's going to deter them to not want to commit crimes here. If we stand together we win".

For more information on gangs in the North State, take a look at some of the Butte County Sheriff's Office Gang Units Fact Sheet.


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