Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sleepy Arizona towns hurt as California gangs take over

In Douglas, Arizona, walls are tagged with graffiti, cars are shot up in drive-by shootings. Young men flash gang signs and battle with bricks, sticks, bats and pipes in the local park.

It was once a sleepy smelter town on the Mexican border, but Douglas is being transformed into an urban battlefield by warring street gangs. It is now a patchwork of territories held by the East Side Torrance and the South Side Harbor City, both Los Angeles-area street gangs, as well as lesser home-grown gangs.

Tattooed and wearing colors, the newcomers are part of a scramble by street gangs to make money from tons of illegal drugs pouring over the border into Arizona from Mexico each month, along with tens of thousands of fee-paying illegal immigrants.

Smuggling is big business in southern Arizona. Last year the Border Patrol seized 440 tons of marijuana in a furiously trafficked corridor south of Tucson and arrested more than 370,000 illegal immigrants.

Gang members steal vehicles stateside and drive to Mexico where they collect marijuana loads and groups of fee-paying illegal immigrants from Mexican smugglers, as well as consignments of prescription drugs. They spirit their loads up to the Interstate 10 freeway and on to Tucson, Phoenix and the gang wracked sprawl of southern California several hours west.

1 comment:



Please be civil. Thank you.