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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Westside United Crips, undercover officers have purchased an SKS rifle, an AK-47 rifle and a stolen handgun

Estimates put the number of gang members in the Westside United Crips at 20 to 30 individuals, mostly juveniles. The gang is one of about 40 gangs that call Pueblo home. One of its suspected leaders, Louie Romero, also known as "Gooey," was arrested along with four other members of the gang near the end of October by a special task force. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Gun Task Force is made up of two ATF agents and two Pueblo Police Department detectives. They work in conjunction with Pueblo Police Departments Gang and Narcotics units to infiltrate gangs, make arrests, and take guns and drugs off the streets. They've been doing this in Pueblo for 13 months, and they've been successful.With at least five arrests resulting in Federal charges, and each of them resulting in convictions, as well as several other arrests on state charges, the task force has been quietly busy. Now, as word has spread through Pueblo's gang world of their existence and very real presence, the task force is opening up about what they are doing in town.The Westside United Crips bust is just an example of the kind of work they're doing. Since April, undercover officers have purchased an SKS rifle, an AK-47 rifle and a stolen handgun. Crack cocaine was sold to the officers on several occasions, including one where an underage boy was allegedly told to sell the drugs to the officer by the gang leader.This disturbing trend is more often the rule, not the exception in Pueblo gangs. Authorities explain, older gang members use the juveniles to carry their drugs and weapons because if caught the child faces a more lenient punishment than adults would. It's a trend Pueblo Police Chief Jim Billings hopes to turn around. But to do so means the community must step up and work with the authorities. "Many times law enforcement and even school teachers are not getting involved in the problems until the mold has kinda been set; and that comes from kids who grow up in homes where maybe it's not the healthy lifestyle that we would all hope for, for our children," says Chief Billings.To give community members options on how to combat gangs in their own way, Chief Billings and Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor hosted a community meeting Tuesday night where after-school programs like the Boys and Girls Club were discussed. As for the ATF Gun Task Force; they spent the evening doing what they have done for 13 months. They, and dozens of other officers, worked the streets looking for opportunities to make Pueblo a safer town.


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