Modesto Bee — Street gangs in the Modesto area used to be disorganized, operating independently. They committed crime, but there was less brazen gun violence.
That all changed in the early 1990s after prison-based Nuestra Familia gang leaders called for unity among Norteños across California. They were ordered to work together to eliminate their common enemy — the Sureños.
The message — produced by a Modesto gang member and sent out via a rap music CD titled "Generations of United Norteños," or "G.U.N." — sparked an ongoing war between the two gangs that rages on today. Gang violence became more coordinated and deadly.
"Now, (the Norteños) knew they had some boundaries," said Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Anthony Bejaran, a former gang investigator. "They had some people telling them what to do and how to do it."
The Sureños responded by establishing their own gangs in Northern California, including areas such as west Modesto and the city's airport neighborhood.
Recruitment for both gangs increased, as did their presence and the culture of fear it spawned. This clash for dominance created a gang hierarchy in prison with more control on what happens on the streets. That remains the case today, with so-called shot callers behind bars still directing criminal behavior such as drug trafficking, home-invasion robberies and revenge killings of former fellow gang members.
The shootings and killings might be about gang colors on the street, but the violence is a byproduct of big business orchestrated by prison gang leaders. Many decisions are dictated by what helps them gain more illicit profits from their criminal enterprise. continue reading...