Members of Sureño street gangs are coming to the Salinas area in increasing numbers and are becoming better organized, the commander of the Monterey County Joint Gang Task Force said Wednesday.Cmdr. Dino Bardoni made the comment following a statewide summit of anti-gang law enforcement agents at Sherwood Hall in Salinas. The two-day gathering was the third such meeting sponsored by the county gang task force.
Bardoni said the Mexican Mafia, a well-established prison gang also known as "la Eme," is teaching more sophisticated criminal tactics to local Sureño street gangs.
Sureño gang members are regarded as mostly Mexican immigrants with ties to their native homeland. Their rivals are Norteño gangs comprised primarily of U.S.-born residents of Mexican descent.Salinas, long a stronghold for Norteño gangs, is seeing more Sureños coming into the area who are organizing in ways they haven't before, and that iscreating more violence in Monterey County, Bardoni said.Wednesday's summit drew about 360 law enforcement agents from 71 different state agencies. The workshops offer training in curbing gang violence. Some of the topics covered during the 16-hour conference included motorcycle gangs, building a good gang prosecution case, finding hidden car compartments where gang members hide guns and the role gang members play in the military."We need to share patterns of gang violence to help each other," Bardoni said. "We need to network and learn what is working in other jurisdictions."In Salinas, this year's gang violence has seen a sharp increase.The number of homicides has risen from 14 in 2007 to 19 so far in 2008. Shootings have gone up from 39 last year to 60 so far this year."We have seen the problem move for years," Bardoni said about the influx of Sureños. "We just need to network with other agencies, share the information, see what works and share resources."