Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager told Modesto education officials that a south Modesto neighborhood is improving six months after prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit that limited the activities of a street gang entrenched in the area.
"The people there tell us there's less graffiti, it's quieter," Fladager said about a recent drive through the neighborhood. "There was an entire fence covered in graffiti. Now, there's nothing."
Fladager explained the gang injunction to Modesto City Schools District trustees at their Tuesday night meeting.
She said it has restricted the activities of the Deep South Side Norteño gang in the neighborhood west of Crows Landing Road and south of the Tuolumne River.
The injunction makes it illegal for 53 members of the gang to hang out together, wear gang colors, go out after 10 p.m. or engage in other gang- related activities inside a 2.5-square-mile area. Prosecutors have identified 11 other active members of the gang who will be served with the injunction. The gang has an estimated 150 members.
If a gang member is caught engaging in any of 14 banned behaviors inside the "safety zone," they're arrested for contempt of court. The violation is a misdemeanor with a penalty of six months in jail and three years of probation. Nine people have been arrested for violating the injunction, and of those four have been convicted.
"The idea is to limit the ability for these folks to get together and engage in dangerous and violent behavior," Fladager said. "It becomes no fun being a gang member in the safety zone."
Fladager and Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira told the school board that teachers need to be aware of gang activity indicators so they can spot students at risk of falling into the criminal behavior.
Ferreira said school intervention programs must play a key role in pulling kids away from gangs before it's too late.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.