NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE STREET GANG UNIT ARRESTS
VIOLENT 18TH STREET GANG MEMBERS
Trenton - New Jersey State Police Superintendent Joseph J. Santiago today announced the arrest of three members of the violent 18th Street Gang based in New Brunswick on charges of attempted murder in a three month series of drive by shootings that wounded several New Brunswick rival gang members.
Over the past month the New Jersey State Police Street Gang Unit, assisted by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, Middlesex County Sheriff's Department, New Brunswick Police Department and agents from the Immigration & Naturalization Service arrested Miquel Huerta, 20, Antonio Pena, 21, and Angel Juarez, 23. All three men are from New Brunswick and have been charged with attempted murder. A fourth individual, Agustina Gonzalez Vasquez, 22, also of New Brunswick, was arrested on drug possession charges as a result of search warrants.
In announcing the arrests Superintendent Santiago said, "I'm proud of the detectives assigned to the State Police Street Gang Unit and their ability to keep ahead of gangs and gang related activity. These arrests bring to justice three very dangerous individuals and mark task force initiatives which will continue in other cities such as Newark, Camden and Princeton in an effort to curtail gang crime and violence. Today New Brunswick is a safer place for its residents and we will strive to continue that success all over New Jersey."
A State Police detective and two investigators from the Middlesex County Sheriff's Department assigned to the Street Gang Task Force played key roles in the investigation that began in November 2001 with the drive-by shooting of a New Brunswick rival gang member by several members of the 18th Street Gang. A second shooting occurred in February 2002 and resulted in the wounding of another individual. Inter-gang rivalries are blamed for the shooting spree, with rival gangs competing for territory and influence within the city's sizeable Mexican immigrant community.
The 18th Street Gang is one of the largest and most dangerous street gangs in the country, with a national membership estimated at more than forty thousand. The largest presence of the gang , twenty thousand strong, is in Los Angeles, where the gang members are offered bounties for killing police officers. Although largely comprised of Mexican aliens, the gang is seeking mainstream support by recruiting across racial and ethnic lines.
The State Police Street Gang Unit is also cooperating with the Princeton Borough Police Department after graffiti found on public property was attributed to the gang. Princeton Borough Police acted quickly at the first appearance of the graffiti in an effort to avoid the possibility of gang violence. Statements taken during the New Brunswick investigation implicated the 18th Street Gang as sending members to Princeton when a rival gang threatened to dislodge 18th Street Gang members from territorial rights to local drug distribution.
# # #