Gangs emerge in state

By Josh Rabe Published: June 17, 2006
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Authorities in northwest contend with drug smuggling, violence.

When a police officer stopped a speeding car Thursday night in downtown Guymon, the driver and passengers looked like an ordinary family.

Gang reference card for parents

Anything but ordinary was the 47 pounds of cocaine in vacuum-sealed bags police extracted from the gasoline tank. Texas County District Attorney Michael Boring said it had a street value of several million dollars.

And the passengers, as it turned out, weren’t related. Ana Valerio, 19, and her 11-month-old child had been paid and flown from Denver to El Paso, Texas, to act as window dressing for the driver, Jose Chavez, 28 — a Mexican national and smuggler, Boring said.

The ruse isn’t new for police in northwest Oklahoma and is part of a complicated system of organized crime that crosses the state on a drug route that runs from El Paso to Chicago. However, for some drug cartels and violent street gangs, the state’s sparsely populated northwest corner has become a destination.

Police from across northwest Oklahoma gathered Friday in Woodward to hear from FBI gang experts about some of the nation’s most violent street gangs, including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), which the FBI says is active in the northwest.

“There has been an increase in violent gangs from Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Mexico coming into these smaller communities,” FBI Special Agent John Davis said.

Telltale signs like gang tagging, or graffiti, are cropping up from Enid to Guymon as gangs try to get footholds in small towns.

Davis said other violent gangs known to be active in northwest Oklahoma include the Mexican Mafia, Chicago-based Latin Kings, the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and several motorcycle gangs, including the Bandidos.

“These are extremely bad guys,” Davis said.

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