OKC Police Expose Violent 'Juaritos' Gang, 30 Gang Members Charged
OKLAHOMA CITY - Prosecutors slapped 30 gang members with racketeering charges as police exposed one of the most violent street gangs in Oklahoma City. With more than 230 members, the Juaritos make up the third largest Hispanic gang in the city.
Police say there are two areas in Oklahoma City that are controlled by the gang. People living in those areas are in terror. They say the gangsters are in complete control, and crime is a daily occurrence.
"The gangbangers have taken over," southeast Oklahoma City resident Jerry Scott said.
Scott has lived in the neighborhood for 37 years. She says it has gotten worse and worse.
"I don't know how to explain it," Scott said. "They're in control. When dark comes, you get in the house."
Scott is talking about the Juaritos. It is a gang with ties to Juarez, Mexico, one of the deadliest cities in the world. They have been terrorizing Oklahoma City neighborhoods since the 1970s.
Police say members of the Juaritos gang have saturated two distinct areas of Oklahoma City. The first is known as the "Top of the Town." It extends from southeast 15th to southeast 25th and South High Avenue to I-35. The second is known as "West Side" from northwest 16th to Main and I-44 to Western.
"I've seen crime just the other day," southeast Oklahoma City resident James Hudson said. "I've seen something go down."
Just down the way from a "Top of the Town" playground near South High Avenue is Juaritos graffiti.
"They did a drive-by … just right down the corner," southeast Oklahoma City resident Carla Rodriguez said. "I have a baby … and I'm scared for him."
People in the gang-infested neighborhoods say the members of the Juaritos have more control over the area than police. Scott says life is getting worse. Her car has been stolen twice in recent months. On Monday, someone siphoned gas out of her truck.
Police began investigating the Juaritos in October of 2011 after an increase in drive-by shootings.