Norteños and Sureños Hispanic gang activity in Colorado
Pierrette J. Shields:
The family of two brothers arrested in connection with the Saturday stabbing death of a 17-year-old boy said Wednesday that the victim was the aggressor, wearing gang garb and flashing signs just before the attack — a description that doesn’t match police statements.
David Rodriguez Jr., 20, and Joseph Rodriguez, 18, members of the local Norteños gang, were arrested Tuesday in connection with the beating and stabbing death of Martin Garcia on Saturday at 21st Avenue and Collyer Street.
Russell Machado of Lafayette, the Rodriguez brothers’ brother-in-law, told the Daily Times-Call on Wednesday about a local gang environment that he said politically favors the Sureños, a larger rival gang, and prompted the altercation.
“No matter where we move in Colorado, Sureños are everywhere,” he said. “People do not realize how big this gang is.”
According to police, Garcia was with friends Saturday when two carloads of boys and young men emptied onto the street and attacked Garcia, who was beaten and stabbed, in what witnesses characterized as a gang clash between the Sureño 13 and Norteño 14 gangs. The Boulder County coroner listed Garcia’s cause of death as multiple stab wounds.
Garcia’s family has said that he was not a member of the Sureños, but police said he had been previously known as a member even if he wasn’t currently active. Machado said Garcia was a well-known Sureño in Longmont, and he played the part the day of his death.
“He had a ‘13’ jersey on when they found him,” he said, adding later that Garcia’s family and friends “make it sounds like he wasn’t part of it, that he was some innocent little boy.”
So far, four have been arrested in connection with Garcia’s death.
Along with the Rodriguez brothers, Adam Mizones, 21, and Oscar Lozano, 17, have been arrested in connection with Garcia’s death.
Investigators believe Mizones stabbed Garcia with a samurai- type sword, while Lozano and the Rodriguez brothers and others beat him with baseball bats, a metal rod and brass knuckles.
The Rodriguez brothers appeared in Boulder County Court on Wednesday, but they won’t be charged until Friday.
David Rodriquez Jr. is under investigation on suspicion of second-degree assault, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a dangerous weapon and accessory to murder. Joseph Rodriguez is being investigated on suspicion of the same charges, except for accessory to murder.
Colorado court documents show Lozano has not yet been formally charged in the case; Mizones is expected in court April 27 to be charged.
Machado said after the attack, the Rodriguez brothers told their family a very different story than the one witnesses told police.
He said the Norteños members didn’t start the fight. The Rodriguez brothers stopped their Cadillac when they heard a rock hit it, Machado said, then Garcia, wearing a Sureño-affilated jersey, flashed gang signs and charged the car with friends in tow.
Cmdr. Craig Earhart, spokesman for the Longmont Police Department, said Wednesday he couldn’t comment on Machado’s version of the story or the details of Garcia’s clothing.
Machado said the brothers called him for advice shortly after the attack, and he told them to turn themselves in and cooperate with police.
Now he is scared they will be killed either in jail or on the street by rival gang members.
He is particularly upset that the brothers are under investigation for conspiracy to commit murder.
One of the Rodriguezes’ sisters, who asked not to be named, said their 14-year-old younger sister has been threatened with death over the incident, and that “word on the street” indicates retaliation is brewing.
Machado said he predicted to police an escalation of gang violence following a pattern of harassment from the Sureños, and he said he feels his warnings went unheeded. He also said he doesn’t believe that police protection extends to people who are at odds with the Sureño 13 gang, which is why the Norteños exist in Longmont.
“You band together and you protect yourselves,” he said of the minority Norteños gang in Boulder County. “It has been like that for hundreds of years.”
Machado said the Norteños are a much smaller gang than the dominant Sureños, but that loyalties aren’t simple because of loosely associated splinter groups within gangs and friendships that cross the lines. For instance, he said, Lozano is from one group of Norteños and the Rodriguez brothers are part of a splinter group of the gang. Machado said Mizones is just a friend.
According to the Longmont Gang Unit Web site, Machado is right about the relative strength of the gangs. It lists the Sureño 13 gang as the most active gang in Longmont and notes that it represents the largest prison gang in the United States. The Norteños, according to the gang unit, is “one of the least known” gangs in Longmont. However, it is the fastest growing.
The Rodriguez brothers’ mother, who asked that the Times-Call withhold her name for her safety, said she is sad about the outcome of the fight.
“I feel bad that the kid died because it could just as easily have been one of my kids laying there dead,” she said.
Earhart said Wednesday that police are still investigating and that more arrests are likely. He said police have interviewed about 35 witnesses and more will be interviewed. He said the investigation is likely to go on until the end of next week.
He said police are also looking into whether the men accused of beating and killing Garcia were involved in a fight with some other people earlier that day.
“That is a possible motive as to why they went out,” Earhart said.
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