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Saturday, 5 April 2008

Daniel "Lizard" Hernandez I enjoyed stabbing people member Nuestra Familia prison gang in northern California.

Daniel "Lizard" Hernandez coolly described his outlook on orchestrating murders, robberies and drug sales as a high-ranking member of the notoriously brutal Nuestra Familia prison gang in northern California.
"I enjoyed stabbing people. It didn't matter who it was," Hernandez said before a crowd of about 200 law enforcement members packed into a lecture hall at South Pointe Exposition Center in Sandy this week.
"If someone needed to go, I was willing to do the job if I was available. I'd raise my hand to do robberies or shoot people."
This attitude from a man who eventually cooperated with the FBI to bring down the top of the Nuestra Familia empire was a shock for some who listened. Hernandez described manipulating prison guards, organizing hits on other inmates and sending orders from prison to thousands of gang members around California who subsequently committed crimes on the streets.
But the lessons shared from a seasoned convict were aimed at helping hundreds in law enforcement understand how to better combat gangs as reports of gang activity continue to rise, said Lt. Steve Anjewierden of the Salt Lake Area Gang Project, which sponsored the conference.
Hernandez's session was one of several held over two days at the 2008 Utah Gang Conference in Sandy, which concluded Friday. More than 1,100 people from Utah, Idaho, Arizona and a few scattered states
across the country gathered in Sandy to learn about the latest gang trends and suppression methods from experts in the field.
The growing number of participants at the conference, which is in its 18th year, is a testament to the rising number of gang problems in Utah, said retired gang Detective George Collord, one of the officers who worked on a case called Operation Black Widow that targeted several Nuestra Familia gang members.
Collord now travels with Hernandez to conferences where law enforcement can learn from Collord's perspective as an investigator and Hernandez' life as a gangster.
Fearing for his life in prison, Hernandez cut a deal with the FBI and became an informant. He says he now rejects gang principles.
"Utah has a gang problem as evidenced by the more than 1,000 people at this gang conference," said Collord after his presentation.
The Salt Lake Area Gang Project in 2004 linked 1,266 crimes in the Salt Lake Valley to gang activity.
Those numbers are on the rise, although police officers can't put an exact number on how many gang members there are in the state, said Detective Lex Bell of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Metro Gang Task Force during a seminar about regional gang trends.
Collord said educating law enforcement, schools and others who come into contact with gangs through initiatives like the conference help people to establish skills to diminish gang activity.


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