In the beginning of February, Jabber Log reported on the violence and gang activity in West Michigan. The story, set in Grand Rapids, followed a former gang member named Cruz and Mario Alfaro, a youth advocate and gang specialist with the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. In the audio portion of the article, Cruz talked about his experience in a gang and how after he escaped he suffered a near fatal shooting. Alfaro’s story explains his affiliations with gangs and how when he moved to Michigan from California he was compelled to help his community by joining the center and help prevent gang violence through their Supporting Our Leaders (SOL) program.
Two days after the publication of this story a major bust occurred in the neighboring city of Holland.
“Thirty-one accused Latin Kings members were indicted on federal charges ranging from racketeering, to conspiring, to distribute cocaine and marijuana, to various weapons violations,” reported 24 Hour News 8 staff. Ricardo Martinez, a co-worker of Alfaro’s and Youth Advocate and School Liaison for the Supporting Our Leaders (SOL) Program commented on the landmark bust by saying, “It’s a large blow to that gang organization and it is something that has been needed in the city of Holland for a long time.”
24 Hour News 8 staff spoke with Holland Department of Public Safety’s Captain Jack Dykstra and quoted him as saying, “The Latin Kings organization has been around for 20 years and we’re just very happy that it’s starting to come to a close.” Martinez on the other hand feels that the Latin Kings are not done yet. “Although many of the heads of the gang are behind bars, there is several in line waiting to take the reigns.” Martinez goes on to say that, “It’s just a matter of time before they regroup but between the local authorities, the community and organizations like mine, we can help prevent as much violence as possible.”