Moses Lake residents are gathering on Thursday for a special town hall.

For many in Moses Lake, gang activity has been top of mind in recent months. (More on this in a bit.) To that end, the Moses Lake Community Coalition is convening a gang-centric town hall.

Law enforcement will be there to present its expert findings. Many quality-of-life issues are amorphous and hard to pin down statistically; not this one. The Moses Lake PD has hard and fast data.

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April 30 was "parent night" in the Moses Lake School District. Dozens turned out to vent about the not-so-sudden preponderance of gangs and to hash out potential solutions. Parent night was illuminating if only because two major Latino gangs - the Sureños and Norteños - were identified by name.

This isn't a particularly new problem. Many years ago, the center-left news and commentary outlet Mother Jones ran a long-form piece titled "Country Gangstaz." The piece describes a "grassroots movement" of roving gang members, some as old as 29, who contend with the sting of poverty by toting guns and calling themselves Marijaunos. (The Marijaunos are an offshoot of the Sureños.) The poverty rate in Grant County - 13.7% - has leveled off but it remains high, higher at least than the national average.

But all hope is not lost. Tomorrow's town hall will include presentations from Forge Youth Mentoring and the Latino Civic Alliance. The LCA's I AM JAGUAR program seeks to instill in Latino youth tools to resist the lure of street gangs.

The town hall takes place at the Moses Lake Civic Center from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Folks can attend via Zoom if they're so inclined.

Click here to read a digital flyer about the I AM JAGUAR program.

Everything You Need To Know About The Sureños Gang

Now, let's look at the Sureños gang which also operates in Idaho, California, and Utah.

Gallery Credit: Chris Cardenas

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