Commentary: Carson City fighting back against gangs

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Illegal immigrant and gang-banger Victor Rodriguez, who on Wednesday was sentenced in Reno to spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering Carson City teenager Rene Angulo last Mother's Day, is an unrepentant poster boy for gang violence in Northern Nevada.

Rodriguez, who showed no remorse at his sentencing in Washoe County District Court, is the type of violent criminal who will be targeted by law enforcement officers from Carson City and, Douglas and Lyon counties as a result of a $350,000 federal grant to combat gang activity in our tri-county area.

The grant was a timely follow-up to a lively and well-attended anti-gang symposium sponsored by the Carson Chamber of Commerce early this month. The symposium featured Salinas, Calif., Mayor Dennis Donohue, who emphasized the need for total community involvement in the fight against gangs, and Carson City District Attorney Neil Rombardo and Sheriff Ken Furlong, who explained their aggressive GRIPS (Gang Response Intervention, Prevention and Suppression) program.

"Solving this (gang) problem requires an entire community," Mayor Donohue told symposium attendees, adding that Salinas has energized local law enforcement and reached out to the FBI and the military for assistance.

Phillip Harrison, chairman of the Chamber's Quality of Life Committee, acknowledged that Carson has a serious gang problem "that surfaces when we least expect it."

Rombardo and Furlong outlined the GRIPS program and vowed to aggressively pursue local gang-bangers through the courts and send them to jail when they violate the law. They estimated that six to eight violent gangs in our area boast at least 600 active members, more than half of whom are illegal immigrants from Mexico and Latin America, according to Rombardo.

As I've often written, that's why the involvement of the Hispanic community is essential in the fight against gangs, and why it was encouraging to see several Latino leaders and representatives at the symposium. Nevertheless, local authorities must recruit many more Spanish-speaking allies in order to successfully combat gang activity.

As an occasional courtroom interpreter, I have closely followed the well-documented connections between illegal immigration, gang activity and drug trafficking. I've learned that many drug traffickers and "mules" are illegal immigrants who don't speak English and, like Victor Rodriguez, think they're above the law. They find out otherwise, however, when courageous prosecutors and judges send them to prison, where they belong.

I'll conclude by urging our law enforcement agencies to participate in a new federal program aimed at arresting and deporting illegals who are involved in violent criminal activity.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, writes frequently about the dangerous nexus between crime and illegal immigration.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment