If you are Latino teenager in Santa Rosa, CA wearing or not wearing blue or red gang colors can mean the difference between life and death. Joy Lanzendorfer profiles the gangs and some gang members:
This year, Santa Rosa saw 32 drive-by shootings, up from 25 in 2003. Nine people have been injured, including a seven-month-old girl. Only two arrests have been made in connection with the shootings.
Many of the drive-bys are the result of an intense rivalry between Sonoma County's two biggest gangs, the Norteños and Sureños...
According to Rafael Vazquez, a gang research advocate who works with troubled youth in Sonoma County, estimates figure that approximately 2 percent of Santa Rosa's population alone--some 3,000 people--are thought to be involved in gang activity. That activity includes "generals" from the outside organization, or "mafia," that controls each gang; the corporate gang captains responsible for funneling money from various criminal rackets back to the mafia; and the kids in the streets who actually sell the drugs and commit the petty crimes that fuel it all.
These gang members exist in a secretive world colored by mysterious signs, rituals and bloodshed.
Gangsters Anonymous [metroactive.com]