Local News

April 13, 2014

Police: Dalton’s gangs still active

About six years ago, Dalton’s “gang problems” garnered enough public attention to prompt police and community leaders to hold meetings and forums aimed at addressing the issue.

Today, thanks partly to a state law that has made it easier to prosecute gang activity and increased penalties for many gang-related offenses from misdemeanors to felonies, the so-called “gang problem” is significantly less noticeable, officials said.

That doesn’t mean it’s gone. Although the gang that accused murderer Orlando Ramirez is a member of, the Hard Time Surenos, has surfaced more in the public eye since Ramirez was charged with fatally shooting one security guard and injuring another at a nightclub on Morris Street on March 23, Dalton police say members of just about every major known gang are in the Dalton area.

“If you ask ‘Does Dalton have a gang problem?’” said Dalton Police Department spokesman Bruce Frazier, “If you’ve got one gang member, it’s a problem.”

One difference that sets Dalton apart from some major metro areas is that gang members here tend not to have the heated rivalries sometimes seen in larger cities, officials said. Detective Chris Tucker, an investigator for the Conasauga Safe Streets Task Force that makes inquiries into gang activity in several jurisdictions, including Whitfield and Murray counties, said Dalton police hadn’t in recent years connected gang members to many high-profile crimes until they charged Ramirez with fatally shooting Las Delicias security guard Bruno Rodriguez and shooting and wounding another guard.

The most high-profile crime police have said was committed by a gang member before that was when five men were charged in the shooting death of 16-year-old Dalton High School football player Andre Johnson in 2007. Officials said a rivalry between the Crips, a gang Johnson claimed although he was not technically a member, and the Tiny Winos gang, spurred the shooting.

Frazier said Dalton police routinely visit schools and talk with civic and other groups upon request to educate them about the state of gangs in Dalton and what they can do to combat them. More than anything, he said, it’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s lives and pay attention to clues.

Tucker said older gang members often recruit their prospects while they’re still young teens, even in middle school. Members who are that young won’t face penalties at the same level as adults, he said, and gang leaders often exploit that fact. Teachers are often the first to notice something may be amiss, he said. In some cases, it’s because a student is drawing gang-related symbols on his books or homework. Other times, the child is making gang symbols or deliberately dressing in a particular gang’s colors.

In Dalton, there are the Surenos, a loose network of gangs with origins in Mexico, and the Nortenos. There are also Bloods, Crips and just about any other major gang typically on the radar in larger cities, Tucker said. Not all gangs locally are Hispanic, Tucker added. There’s an active motorcycle gang, the Outlaws.

Property owners and authorities work quickly to cover up tags — gang-related graffiti often painted on buildings without the owners’ permission — and there have been numerous instances of such tagging in and around Dalton.

Also unlike some of the gangs in larger areas, gangs in Dalton aren’t historically known for claiming territories that are easily identifiable on a map, Tucker said. Despite the rivalry authorities said prompted the shooting of Johnson in 2007, Tucker said most local gang members today don’t have ongoing rivalries.

To contact the Dalton Police Department about scheduling a presentation on gang activity, call the department at (706) 278-9085.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014

  • Two charged with tampering with evidence in drug investigation

    Two people have been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the synthetic marijuana bust in February involving a Dalton business owner.

    July 30, 2014

  • Beaulieu to close operations for one week for inventory

    Floorcovering giant Beaulieu of America will conduct a physical inventory of its buildings and facilities next week, with only salaried employees reporting for work.

    July 30, 2014

  • Green spot closing 1 mlh.jpg A part of the family

    Larry Green can’t remember the exact date. But he says it was about 54 years ago when his father Marvin took him to see the new store he and his brother Herman had commissioned Red Jennings to build at 309 W. Emery St. in Dalton.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • New high school?

    The only means for “staying small” and preserving “The Dalton Way” in Dalton Public Schools may be through expansion, Superintendent Jim Hawkins said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bond denied for man arrested in synthetic marijuana bust

    A Dalton business owner charged in a synthetic marijuana bust was denied bond Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014