Latino gangs a growing problem in Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Latino gangs a growing problem in Memphis

Graffiti on the side of a building makes the announcement: The Serranos 13 and K.A.L.'s, groups known as Latino gangs, are in Memphis.

Just ask Mary Ayotte, who lives near Jackson and National.

"A lot of the young are drug runners," she said. "They try to sell drugs. They do have hookers out here and they are very territorial. They even wear colors."

Tina Baldwin, editor of the Hispanic Newspaper "La Prensa Latina," says the Latino gangs moved here from California.

"They try to bring their business here," she said. "We have territory to compete for drugs and prostitution."

District Attorney Bill Gibbons says the gangs bring violence.

"These gangs have a reputation for being very violent," he said. "We're very concerned about it ."

Gibbons says prostitution and drugs are the business of the Hispanic gangs, but the drug problem is what really concerns him.

"In particular the Hispanic gangs are very involved in importing crystal meth into this community," he said.

Gibbons says law enforcement officers are stopping more and more drug dealers with crystal meth on Memphis interstates. He says its manufactured in California, and fears it may become the drug of choice in urban areas like Memphis.

"For the most part in Tennessee it's been a rural problem," Gibbons said. "If it ever becomes the drug of choice on our streets, in the urban areas, then we have a very, very serious problem. It's much more addictive than cocaine."

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