The recent gang stabbing at 2025 North College Avenue in Fort Collins was the latest reminder of the violent nature of gangs in Larimer County. While the Surenos and the Nortenos are the largest gangs in the county, other gangs active in the county include the Aryans, Crips, Bloods, GKI, 211 Crew, Juggalo, MS13, motorcycle gangs and others.
Statistics compiled this week show there were 306 bookings of 149 different gang members into the Larimer County Jail in the first quarter of 2012. This accounted for about 12 percent of the total number of bookings at the jail which is consistent with the overall gang population in the jail, also about 12 percent.
With over a dozen different gangs represented in the jail population, jail deputies must constantly be on guard for potential outbreaks of violence. One recent example is a planned gang fight which, fortunately, was aborted before it happened by vigilant deputies.
Jail deputies received information from a couple of different sources that a gang fight was planned for the morning of March 22. At the time, it was not known how big the fight would be or how many inmates might be involved. It was later learned that a group of inmates belonging to the Sureno gang planned on assaulting a member of the Norteno gang. The Norteno member was recruiting others in his housing area to assist him with the fight.
Once this information was discovered, jail administrators called in members of the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) to lead the prevention effort. (SERT is the jail’s equivalent of the SWAT team). SERT members along with night-shift deputies that were held over and other on-duty day-shift deputies conducted a complete search of all cells on the first floor of the jail looking for weapons. No weapons were found but a lot of nuisance contraband, like food and other small items, was confiscated.
As a result of the proactive, but costly, increase in staffing that morning and the search of the cells, the gang fight was prevented. No charges were filed.
Another interesting statistic in the first quarter report was that judges issued sentences totaling 123 1/2 years to 14 different gang members in the first quarter of this year.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office has specially trained deputies that can identify gang members in a number of ways including what they wear, tattoos, interviews and associations. Residents are advised to report suspected gang activity to local law enforcement officials as soon as possible.