Authorities may begin enforcing a gang injunction against 10 members of the Deep South Side Norteños, a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge said Thursday, but two suspected gang members who are contesting the order have two months to mount a legal challenge.
Judge John G. Whiteside said any documented gang member who has been served with a copy of a restraining order may be punished for contempt of court if he violates any of 14 banned behaviors, including hanging out in public places, wearing red clothing or staying out after curfew.
The judge carved out a delay for defendants Armando Parra, 21, and David Tubera, 28, because they came to court to object.
Whiteside told the men they must hire a lawyer or do some legal research so they can represent themselves in a lawsuit brought by the district attorney's office, which is suing the gang under public nuisance laws.
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Parra and Tubera said they are confused by the legal process.
"It's like I'm still going to be on parole after I'm supposed to be rehabilitated," said Parra, who has "Modesto" tattooed across his back, "209" tattooed on his abdomen and was convicted of shooting at an occupied vehicle in 2006.
He said he should be able to hang out wherever he pleases and wear whatever clothing he likes once he finishes his parole.
"I don't see how they got that," said Tubera, referring to a list of 20 gang members who are named in the injunction. He is a suspected drug dealer, has been convicted of burglary and numerous drug possession charges and has "DSSM" tattooed on his fingers, court records said. The gang is sometimes called Deep South Side Modesto, according to authorities.
The district attorney's office is expected to continue its efforts to give notice to the remaining eight gang members named in legal papers.
The judge told the men that they will suffer no consequences from the injunction, which bans visible gang activity in a 2½-square-mile "safety zone" south of the Tuolumne River and west of Crows Landing Road, if they keep away from other Norteños and avoid gang activities.
"Stay at home and mind your own business," Whiteside said, "and you're not going to have any problem."
Parra and Tubera declined further comment as they left the courthouse.
Whiteside granted a preliminary restraining order against 10 of the 20 men named in the injunction, leaving a temporary restraining order pending against Parra and Tubera.
The injunction could become permanent if the judge is convinced that the defendants have no legal grounds to challenge the order.
The judge said he will revisit the matter Sept. 10.
Prosecutors may add gang members to the injunction. Authorities said they have documented 51 Norteños with allegiances to the neighborhood; they believe the gang has more than 150 members and associates. Other gangs are not subject to the injunction.
District Attorney Birgit Fladager said her office now may go after any member of the Deep South Side Norteños, as long as the person is a documented gang member and receives legal notice about the injunction.
"They are all subject to it now," she said.
Undersheriff Bill Heyne said officers will not begin enforcing the injunction until they receive specialized training. He said community meetings are planned. "This is a tool for us that will help these people take back their neighborhood," Heyne said.
Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2338.