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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

GANGWAR has broken out between Los Midnight Locos, which has been in the Northeast for decades, and members of the Lopez Maravilla gang

08:52 | , ,

GANGWAR has broken out between Los Midnight Locos, which has been in the Northeast for decades, and members of the Lopez Maravilla gang, which originated in East Los Angeles but has been in El Paso since the 1970s. The animosity is as clear as the X'ed out graffiti spray-painted on wall after rock wall on Tropicana Avenue across the street from Collins Elementary School.Neighbors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, fear retaliation from gang members who menacingly strut down streets in a normally quiet middle-class area."They would also walk around with baseball bats and they would stand at the corner under the light post -- just stand there and stare down cars," a resident said. "Everybody wants to stay inside. Everybody is all cautious." The rivalry is also carried out in boastful Web pages and a local video on by the Lopez Maravilla gang.In response, a video posted this week, apparently by fed-up residents, warns gang members that they are being watched.
Recently, things heated when a Molotov cocktail was part of an unsolved attempted arson at the home of an alleged gang member, Fernie Gonzalez, in the 4800 block of Tropicana. Firefighters said there was no major damage.Then on March 14, a brawl erupted about 6:20 a.m. when gang members attacked two men and three women at a home in the 5300 block of Viceroy, according to complaint affidavits filed by a gang investigator and obtained by the El Paso Times.
Police said the attack was by the Lopez Maravilla against Los Midnight Locos. It is unclear whether all involved were gang members.According to the documents, Erika Cochran, 17, allegedly drove the attackers to the home. They used a baseball bat, a tire iron and jumper cables, and Gonzalez, 18, allegedly fired a handgun toward two people and the home. Gonzalez was trying to reload when Ernesto Sanchez stopped him. Then another attacker hit Sanchez with a baseball bat. Cochran allegedly used a tire iron to bash the windows of a woman's car. Before the assault was over, Gonzalez allegedly shot Rudy Villanueva, who received a bullet graze to the head. Police stopped the alleged attackers' car a block away. Gonzalez and Coch ran have been arrested and charged with criminal attempted murder, two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity -- aggravated assault and two counts deadly conduct. More arrests are possible.

Police Lt. Miguel Zamora, of the Northeast Regional Command, said families with ties to the Lopez Maravilla moved to the Northeast after being displaced by the floods that struck El Paso in 2006. "The gang is not native to the Northeast and as its numbers grew, so did the rivalry," he said Zamora said police are trying to prevent more trouble by increasing patrols, paying extra attention and encouraging residents to report problems. As for gang members standing on corners with baseball bats, police said it is not illegal.
Gang-intervention counselor Rob Gallardo said the gangs are fighting for territory, for recruits and over personal disputes. "The personal beefs get very serious and sometimes turn deadly," he said in an e-mail.Meanwhile, residents near Tropicana and Kellogg streets are stuck in the middle, frustrated and fearful.Gang members "jumped this guy one time and that day the police didn't even show up. And it was a 911 call," one neighbor complained. "We (authorities) are worried about the violence in Juárez but we aren't worried about what is going on here

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