Gangs give cops the silent treatment
By David De Rurange/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore -- Among gangs there is a code of silence. It's a problem for police when conducting investigations. Gang members won't talk either because of loyalty or fear.
"I thought I was going to be a victim." Michael Seems told investigators, referring to the night he stabbed and killed Ted Sanchez in a Phoenix trailer park in June last year. "I thought I was going to be shot."
These statements were captured on video and shown to a Jackson County jury in March. At one point in the video, Seems breaks down into tears, telling police he's scared of what might happen to his family. He said if gang members were to retaliate police wouldn't be able to catch them.
The jury found Seems guilty of manslaughter. Now he's serving 10 years in prison. Police said a fight between Seems and Sanchez stemmed from an argument over rival gangs. Seems said he hung out with "South Siders," but wasn't in a gang. As for the victim, a memorial video posted on YouTube shows Ted Sanchez with family and signs of being a Norteno gang member.
"There certainly is code of silence within the gangs." said police Lt. Brett Johnson, a member of the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team. "Once the individuals become involved with the gangs, that becomes their family. A lot of folks you stop to talk to, they're not going to tell you what their dad did or their brother did. That's the way they look at it. Their gang is their family."
A code of silence shouldn't exist in your neighborhoods. Johnson identified a couple of streets in east and west Medford where police frequently patrol for gang activity. Some of those streets are Brookhurst, Dakota, Crater Lake Avenue, Columbia and Plum.
No matter if you're on good or bad terms with your neighbors, Johnson said you should at least know when they are home and when they are not.
Johnson encourages residents to try establishing long-term relationships with neighbors.
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