Suspected Gang Declared a Public Nuisance

Police Lt. Scott Conley said police were called to a home after members of Ogden Trece and an associate gang became violent at a party. A 19-year-old man was stabbed four times in the chest, leaving him in critical condition at McKay-Dee Hospital. Lt. Conley says potential eyewitnesses are “uncooperative,” saying that “they’ll take care of it themselves.” Police have not made any arrests in the stabbing. However, they did make one arrest while questioning people – based on an injunction granted in September.

On September 27, 2010, Judge Ernie W. Jones issued an injunction declaring members of Ogden Trece a public nuisance and banning the 485-plus members from, among other things, associating with each other. Lt. Conley says officers stopped a vehicle attempting to locate a suspect in the stabbing. Three Trece members were in the car, two of whom were served papers informing them of the injunction. The third occupant, who had already been served the papers, was arrested and booked into Weber County Jail for violation of a civil injunction. Lt. Conley says in addition to trying to develop leads, police are “trying to stop these types of incidents from occurring with the injunction.”

Injunction Against Ogden Trece Members

The injunction was filed August 20 in district court – an effort that mirrors California law enforcement attempts to deal with Los Angeles area gangs. Police Chief Jon Greiner says the force wants to see if this may push gang members out to another community.

The Ogden Police Department has created a database of alleged gang members. Chief Greiner says the federal government has created rigorous guidelines for identifying gang members.

Among other things, the injunction provides that within the 27 miles of the city, alleged gang members:

  • Are enjoined from associating with each other
  • Are prohibited from possessing guns
  • Are not allowed to be in the vicinity of illegal drugs
  • Must abide by an 11 p.m. curfew

Dee Smith, Weber county attorney, says the injunction enables police to prevent gang members from loitering and intimidating residents. Alleged gang members in violation of the injunction are served with a notice violation, informing them of the terms of prohibition of the injunction. Less than one month after issuance of the injunction, 39 notice violations had been served.

Violators of the injunction may be charged with a class B misdemeanor, a conviction that carries up to six months of jail time. Chief Greiner says that if the injunction works, he would like to expand the approach in order to deal with other gangs in the city.

Opposition From ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and others have filed petitions with the Utah Supreme Court, seeking immediate appellate review of the gang injunction and an order blocking Weber County from enforcing the injunction until after the appeal is decided.

The injunction prohibits alleged Trece members from engaging in otherwise legal activity, including:

  • Associating with other alleged Trece members, unless they are in school or church; there is no exception for family, friends or co-workers
  • Possessing legal firearms
  • Having an open container of alcohol in public
  • Engaging in other constitutionally protected expressive speech and activities

The ACLU challenges the application of these broad prohibitions at the hands of and in the discretion of law enforcement. Darcy Goddard, legal director of ACLU of Utah, says that while police have an interest in stopping organized crime, the criminalization of constitutionally protected activities for hundreds of people is not warranted. Goddard claims there is no evidence that gang injunctions are effective long-term and criticizes the lack of a requirement of a judicial determination that the individuals are actually Trece members.

It is unclear why prosecutors resorted to a civil injunction against the Ogden Trece, but it may be because law enforcement lacked sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges such as racketeering, drug trafficking and distribution, or a href=”Weapons-Offenses/Gun-Charges”>illegal gun possession.

Purported Gang Member on Law Enforcement List Includes Eighty-One Year Old Man

Ralph Dellapiana, one of the Salt Lake Legal Defenders, says there are too many people on the registry. According to Dellapiana, there are prior instances of police placing relatives of gang members, who are not themselves members of the gang, into their gang databases; he says it is difficult to be removed from these registries. Goddard confirms that the ACLU of Utah has received complaints from those who say they are mistakenly named in the injunction, including one call from an 81-year-old man who says he was never a member of Ogden Trece.

Those who have questions about the injunction and how and whether it applies to them should contact an attorney. If a notice violation has been served, an experienced criminal defense attorney can work to protect the alleged violator’s rights.

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