Avon police nab alleged gang taggers | VailDaily.com

Avon police nab alleged gang taggers

Scott Cunningham

Avon Police arrested two alleged gang members last week for vandalizing the Sunridge complex where one of them lives. The graffiti tags are known to represent the Sureno 13 gang, which Detective Mike Leake describes as an umbrella organization for Hispanic gangs across the country.”It’s a low level gang,” said Leake, who explained that unlike gangs like the Crypts and Folk Nation, Sureno 13 is relatively poor, dealing mostly in marijuana trafficking, but that doesn’t connote an absence of violence.According to Leake, graffiti art is the method by which gang members claim territory, which, he says, inevitably leads to violence when those borders are breached by rivals.”But we’re not going to put up with it,” he said, emphasizing that although this case was an isolated incident, Avon police are treating it very seriously.”It’s graffiti and we’re not going to stand for it,” added arresting officer Mike Lundblade.The two men charged with felony counts of criminal mischief are Leo Ruiz and Gustavo Ramos. A third participant was a 15-year-old juvenile who was released.On the night of Sept. 17, the three friends tagged two different locations in Sunridge, police say, but in the following days, at least one bragged about the crime publicly, which led to a concerned citizen tipping off police.Lundblade said he quickly found Ruiz, who admitted to the crime and named the other participants. After locating Ramos, Lundblade found a drawing in his notebook that matched the graffiti, as well as several tattoos on his back and hand that also matched what was painted on the Sunridge walls. Black spray paint cans were found in Ramos’ closet, and he later confessed to the crime, police said.According to Leake, the “13” depicted in the graffiti stands for the 13th letter of the alphabet, “M,” meaning “Mexico” or “Mexican.” The three dots symbolize the phrase “Mi Vida Loca” or “My Crazy Life,” a popular gang motto. Ruiz also has this symbol tattooed onto the web of one of his hands, Leake said.The word “Sureno” refers to the “South,” pointing toward Mexico, but Leake says it originated in South Los Angeles. The “SWC,” which Ramos also had tattooed on his back, stands for “South West Central,” according to Leake.Another mark of Sureno 13 gang members is their “Southsider” jerseys with the number “13” on them. Leake said the jerseys are made by a company called “Brown Pride,” which is run by a gang incarcerated in Texas. One of these jerseys was found in the closet of the juvenile.Apparently, the incident arose due to another gang member scratching out a tag the three had carved into a bench in Nottingham Park. The juvenile was also told by an unidentified male to remove his “Southsider 13″ jersey because he was not a member of the Sureno 13. The juvenile refused. In testimony given to Avon police, Ruiz claimed the tagging was a response to these incidents in order to claim their territory.Detective Leake said that although isolated incidents such as these occur once every four to five months, Avon does not have a gang problem.”When the problem comes up, we address it immediately,” he said, adding that citizens noticing any of these gang-related signs should contact Avon police at (970) 748-4040 as soon as possible.Water & Sanitation lifts time-of-day restrictionsThe Eagle River Water & Sanitation District announced this past week that it is lifting outdoor time-of-day watering restrictions, allowing customers in the Vail service area to water their landscaping any time during the day on those days they are allowed to water. The day-of-the-week restrictions remain in place.Previously, watering was restricted to between midnight and 8 a.m. on allowed days. &quotWith the colder nights coming on a regular basis now, we didn’t want to force our customers to water during the night when it would cause freezing and damage to landscaping,&quot said Dennis Gelvin, district general manager. &quotWe want to make it clear, however, that we are still in an extreme drought situation and the two-day-per-week watering restrictions are still in effect.&quotFor more information on current watering restrictions, call the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District at (970) 476-7480.Eagle County fire ban liftedAs of noon, Oct. 1, Eagle County Sheriff A.J. Johnson lifted the fire ban in Eagle County that had been in effect since May 9.Although the ban has been lifted, the officials issued a caution to those conducting agricultural burns or people using the backcountry, saying continued drought conditions dictate common sense.Dowd Junction wildlife screens underwayOn Wednesday, Oct. 2, the Town of Vail, in partnership with the Eagle County Trails Committee, began installation of new wildlife migration screens on a portion of the Dowd Junction recreation path.The construction is taking place about halfway between Intermountain and Dowd Junction, where a wildlife migration tunnel passes under I-70 and the recreation path just outside of Vail’s boundaries. The recreation path will remain open during the screen installation; however, there may be delays.Bicycle users are being asked to dismount and walk through the construction area. Additional maintenance work is occurring simultaneously along other portions of the path. The project is scheduled to be completed in late October.Wildlife use the tunnel as part of their natural migration path during the spring and fall According to public works officials, the wildlife migration screens are used to block the sight of humans along the path, which discourage wildlife from using the tunnel. The new screens will be able to withstand higher winds and other weather conditions that have battered the existing screens making them ineffective.For more information, contact Gregg Barrie, the town’s landscape architect, at (970) 479-2337.– compiled by Scott Cunningham

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