Neither former Chief Mills or former Chief Harpham before him ever wanted to talk about 18th street or deal with these guys. Even when they were linked to several murders and violent attacks in the last few years.
The good news is interim Chief Watson has extensive experience with policing gangs and takes them very seriously!
we’ve posted about this issue in the past:
Barrio 18: Also known as The 18th Street Gang, the gang has its roots in Los Angeles of the 1960s, where it was originally composed of Mexican immigrants. Over the decades, though, Barrio 18 threw open its recruitment to members from Central America as well, often targeting the elementary and middle-school children of immigrants. In Humboldt County, it’s a rag tag assortment of relatives of pelican bay inmates and/or refugees from LA or the Bay Area gang battles. Some are just laying low or moving contraband for the gang.
Meet the terrifying gang with 50,000 foot-soldiers across the US and so unashamedly violent it rivals MS-13
US has vowed to crack down on ultra-violent transnational gang MS-13
But MS-13’s arch-rival gang Barrio 18 has a sickening reputation just as bad
Founded in Los Angeles and spread throughout Mexico and Central America
Believed to have 30,000 to 50,000 members across 20 US states
Allied with the Mexican Mafia gang but sworn rivals to MS-13
MS-13 isn’t the only gang sowing violence and terror from Central America to the US: meet Barrio 18.
Arch-rivals to MS-13, Barrio 18 has an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 members across 20 US states and is linked to drugs, murder, kidnappings and other violent crime from Central America to Canada.
‘With thousands of members across hundreds of kilometers, and interests in a number of different illicit activities, Barrio 18 is one of the more significant emerging criminal threats in the region,’ write analysts for the think-tank InSight Crime.
Last week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited his counterpart in El Salvador to discuss ways to crack down on transnational gangs – MS-13 and Barrio 18 chief among them.
But if history is any guide, eradicating Barrio 18 will be easier said than done
As the gang’s ranks grew, it became the target of FBI and police crackdowns, sending many of its veteran members to prison.
But time behind bars just gave Barrio 18’s shot-callers a fertile new recruiting ground, and it quickly swelled its ranks in federal prisons.
Stepped up deportations also had an unintended effect, spreading the gang’s reach to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as hardened members were shipped back to their native countries, where they have battled brutally with MS-13
Loosely coordinated between cells or ‘cliques’ even at the local level, Barrio 18 isn’t believed to have a ‘godfather’-style leader.
That’s made it difficult to target under racketeering laws, the tactic that brought down many Mafia families.
The gang is nevertheless notorious for enforcing strict rules and absolute obedience among its ranks, and failure to show proper respect can bring severe punishment, including execution.
Barrio 18 cliques have been linked to the international drug trade, and the gang is closely allied with the Mexican Mafia, another Hispanic organized crime ring with its origins in US prisons.
Their colors, blue and black, even pay tribute to the Mexican Mafia: blue for the allied gang, and black for Barrio 18’s original color.
Barrio 18 tattoos can include: 18, XVIII, XV3, BEST (for ‘Barrio Eighteenth Street) and 8P (stands for killing a police officer).
Another tattoo, X8, stands for absolute loyalty to the gang.
Barrio 18 members are the sworn enemies of MS-13, another gang with its origins in California that has since spread in Central American countries with weakened governments.
‘These two gangs have turned the Central American northern triangle into the area with the highest homicide rate in the world,’ the US Justice Department wrote in a 2013 report.
Like MS-13, the decentralized structure of Barrio 18 has made it incredibly resistant to decades of efforts to eradicate it.
‘They’re worse than a cancer,’ gang expert Gabriel Kovnator told the Los Angeles Times all the way back in 1996.
‘A cancer you can kill. These guys keep growing.’