Thursday, June 14, 2012
Meet the Book Authors of "BEST-Barrio Eighteenth Street, Mara Salvatrucha, and Other Sureño Gangs Across America"
by Co-Author Andrew Eways
How exactly did I get here? How is it that I’m sitting in front of my computer working on a non-fiction book about Latino gangs? I’ve asked myself these questions almost daily for more than a year now and I’m still not sure I know the answers.
I was born on an Army base in
Europe, the youngest of three children. At that time, my father was an officer in the United States Army and my mother was a secretary. I grew up with a stable home, loving parents and positive role models. I was the furthest thing from someone who had to find their way out of unfortunate circumstances; no substance abuse, no gang involvement, no broken home; and I have never lost sight of how fortunate I am.
As a child I loved to lose myself in television shows and movies, to immerse myself in the stories someone had created. This gave birth to my two greatest passions; the two biggest influences in my life; my career in law enforcement and my lifelong study of the martial arts. From Adam-12 in my childhood to Southland in my forties, I have always enjoyed police dramas. In hindsight, I think I was destined to be a police officer. Then in 1994, my law enforcement career began, and so did my introduction to the world of gangs. First, several students at a local high school formed a rather short-lived white supremacist gang while, on the other side of my jurisdiction, students at another high school formed a gang based loosely on the Crips. Within a few years while I was serving as a detective, a member of the Four Corner Hustlers from
began committing armed robberies – including at least two bank robberies – while hiding in Colorado . Before I could develop enough evidence to prosecute him, though, he was extradited back to Maryland where he served time in prison, returned to his gang, and ultimately died a violent death. As the years of my career passed, I found myself crossing paths with gang members more and more frequently Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Skinheads, Latin Kings and many, many more. But the gangsters that I found myself in contact with more than any others were the Sureños, an umbrella group of gangs that started in Colorado Southern California and spread across the country and beyond.
From 1997 to 2011, my work with gangs and ethnic organized crime groups was almost constant. I was assigned to my department’s Criminal Investigation Division, Homeland Security Unit, Organized Crime Division, and Gang Enforcement Unit. No matter what my assignment was, it inevitably involved Sureño gang members. Members of Mara Salvatrucha, 18th Street, Florencia, Tepa,
Lennox, , Lomas, Inglewood – so many gangsters from places I didn’t know before, but places I know now. My desire to learn led me to study them, to learn their history and traditions. I took every class available, interviewed every gang member I could, cultivated long-term informants who could provide me an inside look at gang life. I wanted to learn which gangs were rivals, what crimes each was known for, how to interpret their tattoos and graffiti; everything about them. Much like my practice of martial arts, I found myself with a constant need to learn something. But learning wasn’t my only job function, I also needed to enforce the law and do my part to help curb gang violence. From street-level anti-gang operations to major, multi-jurisdictional investigations, I have been involved in virtually every aspect of anti-gang work as part of various units, teams and task forces. I continued to learn from gang professionals like Retired NYPD Sergeant Lou Savelli, Retired LAPD Detective Tony Moreno, Inmate Classifications-Gang Specialist and co-author Gabriel Morales, and many, many others. Venice
Like them, I began sharing by knowledge of gangs with other law enforcement professionals, first in my department’s academy, then throughout the region, and eventually across the country. I continue to do so today. And everywhere I go – from
to Florida – one thing never changes. Police officers, correctional officers, and other members of the criminal justice system from coast to coast are coming in contact with Sureño gangs. California
Almost twenty years since I graduated from the
, I find myself starting a new journey. I now live in Maryland State Police Academy and work for a police department in the Denver Metropolitan area, an area with a large population of Sureño gang members; many of whom came to the area from Colorado Southern California and brought their gangs with them. I realize that apart from the need to teach criminal justice professionals about gang investigations, the public in general needs to be educated about gangs too. Prevention and intervention efforts require knowledge and recognition of the early warning signs, so communities can take action to prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs. Parents, teachers, public officials; everyone plays an important part in protecting their community from gang violence. In 2010, during a discussion of this very topic with my friend Gabriel Morales, the idea to co-write this book was born. We talked about something that could be of use to police officers, correctional officers, parole agents, parents, teachers, and anyone else who comes in contact with Sureño gang members.
This book represents the efforts of two gang professionals sharing their knowledge with both criminal justice professionals and civilians so that everyone involved can work together to combat gang violence and intervene before young people are tempted to join gangs. We hope you will learn something from it, then take that knowledge and become a part of the solution.
by Co-Author Gabriel Morales
When Andy Eways approached me about writing a book on Sureño gangs, I didn’t take much time to arrive at my decision, I jumped at the chance. Previously, I had done a lot of research on Latino gangs and shared personal insights of my experiences in my book “Varrio Warfare: Violence in the Latino Community”. My second book, “La Familia: Prison Gangs in America” covered the parent prison gang of the Sureños, La EME, also known as the Mexican Mafia as well as other Security Threat Groups. I also worked on a major publication on Sureños for the Rocky Mountain Information Network (RMIN) gang profiles of Sureños I’d encountered in my approximately ten years working in California. Prior to its dissolution I had also been asked by the President of the National Major Gang Task Force, Daryl Vigil, if I’d be interested working on a project covering Sureño gangs.
I am the Founder and current Advisor for the International Latino Gang Investigators Association (ILGIA). This group conducts training, workshops, conferences, news articles, and criminal justice networking. I worked with other groups on various projects dealing with Latino gangs. In my Police and
classes there were always a lot of questions and interest about Sureño gangs. There were also a lot of misconceptions about gangs that I found in my work with non-criminal justice personnel and a growing plea for more information dealing with them, especially Sureño gangs. Corrections Academy
As I traveled across the country it became fairly obvious that many law enforcement, corrections, and general public considered the Sureños to be their fastest growing gang problem and/or their worst gang problem. Latino population growth has been very fast in the last hundred years, especially Mexican immigration. I saw this first hand in
and in Washington State . Unfortunately, a small but often very violent percentage were gang members, and more often than not they were Sureños. California
We hope this book helps better educate you on the issues that gangs like Eighteenth Street, Mara Salvatrucha, and other Sureño gangs across
present. We also hope it helps all of us arrive at better solutions in dealing with the myriad of gang related issues you may encounter. I personally hope it will help deter youth from joining gangs, live a life free of crime, and help to foster an environment that makes them want to become more productive citizens in these America . United States of America
You can purchase "BEST-Barrio Eighteenth Street, Mara Salvatrucha, and Other Sureños Across America" at: http://www.gangpreventionservices.org/merchandise.asp#book