Along with fellow San Mateo County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Smyser, Alfredo Gudino maintains a presence on school campuses from Montara to Pescadero as part of his duties with the agency's Community Resource School Policing Unit.
At last week's organized by the city and Sheriff in response to the which took place in the city's Arleta Park neighborhood, Gudino shared information with local residents on known street gangs in the area, as well as how to discern nonverbal messages transmitted through and clothing.
Gudino started out with the basics first.
Defining gangs in Half Moon Bay
"A gang is defined as three or more people with a common sign, symbol or name who participate or engage in criminal activity that benefits or enhances the gang," he said.
The Norteños and the Sureños are the main two known street gangs in the Half Moon Bay area.
According to Gudino, these two rival gangs are organized into even two larger groups: the former are part of the Media Luna Norteños, while the latter are part of the Coastside Locos. Within the Media Luna Norteños, he said, two subsets exist — the Moonridge Outlaws at the Moonridge Housing Complex and the Main Street Project at the Main Street Housing Complex.
The Norteños and the Sureños have been rivals since 1968, Gudino said, when a rift among Mexican American inmates at the state prison in Tracy broke the group up into two separate allegiances.
As street gangs, the Norteños and the Sureños follow the orders of the prison gangs each are affiliated with: La Nuestra Familia and the Mexican Mafia. The Norteños are affiliated with the La Nuestra Familia. The Mexican Mafia, the group that the Sureños affiliate themselves with, was "originally formed to defend themselves against prisoners of other races," according to Gudino.
According to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office (which operates a and Gang Task Force), many members of the Norteños were born in the United States, while the Sureños are comprised of many recent immigrants.
Gudino said that students as young as age 13, or seventh grade, are being recruited into the gangs. By their mid-twenties, he said, members are known as "OGs" (shorthand for Original Gangsters). The Coastside Locos, Gudino said, are generally comprised of men in this older age group who have already undergone initiation into the gang.
Using photos of graffiti on a fence and telephone pole in Half Moon Bay originally obtained and by Half Moon Bay Patch, Gudino guided the approximately 250 residents in the audience at the town hall meeting through an example of how gangs communicate using this graffiti. He also explained the meaning of abbreviations commonly seen in graffiti tagging. (See the Half Moon Bay Patch article which originally accompanied the photos for explanation of the shorthand as well).
Graffiti shorthand and what it means (as provided by Gudino):
- "X4," "4," and "XIV" = symbolic of the number 14 ("X" signifies the number 10) believed to come from the letter "N" as the fourteenth letter in the alphabet. Shorthand for the Norteños.
- "N" = La Nuestra Familia, the prison gang the Norteños are affiliated with
- "X3" and "XIII" = symbolic of the number 13 believed to come from the letter "M" as being the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. Shorthand for the Sureños.
- "M" = the Mexican Mafia (La "Eme"), the prison gang the Sureños are affiliated with
- Dots = can be used in graffiti tagging and as part of a gang tattoo — with one dot on one side of the face and three on the other side, for example, for the Sureños
- 187 = murder (based on the California penal code for murder, which is 187) - used in the tagging war between gangs
- SK = scrap, scrapular, scrapa - - a disrespectful term used in the tagging war between gangs
Gudino showed how the two rival gangs communicated with each other on the photographed Half Moon Bay fence. The "4" in "X4" was crossed out and replaced by "3." The "187" and "SK" tags can also be seen along the fence near the scrawled out "4."
An exhibit of clothing and accessories believed to be affiliated with the two gangs lined one side of the wall at the town hall meeting (see photos in media box to the right of this story).
While the Norteños wear red, the Sureños wear blue.
Some examples, according to Gudino:
- The Norteños identify with the huelga bird (see photo of baseball cap)
- The clowns featured in the Sureños garment (see photo) signify the sentiment of 'Smile now, cry later' — meaning one should not worry about the consequences of current actions.
Gudino pointed out that residents should be careful not to jump to conclusions and assume that an individual is affiliated with a gang simply because one wears blue or red garments or hats such as a blue Dodgers cap, for example.
On September 1, four suspects were arrested in connection with the shooting on charges of attempted murder.
The SWAT team of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, members of the Sheriff's Half Moon Bay Patrol Bureau, the Sheriff's Investigative Bureau and allied law enforcement agencies conducted early morning search warrants of three Half Moon Bay residences in the , while the in San Francisco in the evening while exiting a car.