Gang Wars: Oakland II   View more episodes

Aired at 01:00 AM on Sunday, Jan 23, 2011 (1/23/2011)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:03The norteños are the old guard of oakland's gangs, marked by the color red.
00:00:09Just a few blocks away, though, red turns to black, indicating another gang's territory.
00:00:20This is 94th avenue, home to javier.
00:00:24He says he's not a gang member, but he lives in border broterritory and flies their color, black.
00:00:33Javier: If some guy sees me wearing a blue shirt, like, all the time and I live right here, they're gonna come after me because, like, the gangs right here are blue, red, and black.
00:00:46So, yeah, so, I like black.
00:00:50It's just, like, protection.
00:00:52Like, I don't want some guys to come and start [bleep] with me.
00:00:56Narrator: Javier is part of the 9400 boys, ..
00:01:01 they can't touch me.
00:01:03...Fat boy, raoul, snoopy.
00:01:06They are one of the hundreds of cliques in oakland, the youngest member is just 14 years old.
00:01:14And like javier, who was born in columbia, most came to america with their families looter life.
00:01:23Javier: I was running from the violence over there.
00:01:26My dad wanted a better future for me, so he brought me over here to the united states.
00:01:33Narrator: But for javier, that promise of a better life changed in a single night.
00:01:38Javier: I went to the club one night with my friends, and when we came out the club, some guys just rolled by in two cars.
00:01:48 they just pulled on the side of us.
00:01:51They showed us the gang colors and everything.
00:01:56[ Imitating gunfire ] [ tires screech ] Narrator: Javier was wearing black.
00:02:02And the shooters -- he thinks they wore red, norteños' colors.
00:02:0745 that hit me, bullet about this big.
00:02:15All right, there.
00:02:16Can you see it poking out? you see it?
00:02:20Right there.
00:02:21Narrator: The bullet is a constant reminder to javier of the price he paid for wearing his color -- a color that was supposed to protect him but instead made him a target.
00:02:34Now javier is part of a deadly game, caught up in a world of gangs all trying to be the most notorious, the most feared, the ones in control.
00:02:43On Norteño: If they ain't with me, they against me, right?
00:02:51So what they got, I want.
00:02:53Narrator: For the oldest gang in oakland, the norteños, that means eliminating their enemies -- the new latino gangs like the 9400 boys and the border brothers.
00:03:04Norteño: You hear people talking about these border brothers coming up, feel me?
00:03:07[Bleep] them [bleep] ain't nothing but suckers, feel me?
00:03:09Border [bleep] burnt burritos, whatever [bleep] they is, this is northern california.
00:03:13Don't come out here banging that [bleep] true color bleeds.
00:03:20Javier: Any day, me or one of my friends could get killed, man.
00:03:25That's how it is around here.
00:03:26Or anybody -- anybody could get killed anytime right here in oakland, man.
00:03:32It's crazy.
00:03:33[ Indistinct shouting ] you live your life thinking all the time that some [bleep] is going to happen to you.
00:03:42Like, destiny is a [bleep] [ gunshots ] Narrator: Later, destiny means death for one of javier's crew.
00:03:56But up next, the 9400 boys take a dangerous trip into enemy territory.
00:04:04And then,gangs take to the street for a dangerous night out,an oakland tradition -- the sideshow.
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00:07:19[ Siren wails ] Narrator: The streets of oakland, california, have become a war zone- a battleground encompassing an 11-square-mile area within the city.
00:07:30Reporter: A barrage of bullets shattered a west oakland neighborhood overnight -- so many that police actually ran out of those plastic markers.
00:07:39Narrator: It is a gang war over turf and colors year -- a number that keeps rising.
00:07:51The job of taking back the streets from the gangs falls to an army of just eight men.
00:07:57They're oakland's gang unit, and today they are on the hunt for a suspected killer.
00:08:02His name is francisco hernandez, and he goes by the street nickname of zapper.
00:08:08He's suspected of killing susana's brother, marco.
00:08:14Navario: You know, when you walkdown the block, you have to actlike you own the block.
00:08:18You can't walk scared,'cause then they come and they bother you and they start asking youwhat color you claim.
00:08:22Ou and you really can'tget out sometimes.
00:08:25Man: Why is that?
00:08:28[ Voice breaking ]I DON'T KNOW.
00:08:29But my brotherwas trying to get out.
00:08:37He wasn't trying to be another statis Narrator: Susana's brother, marco, was the victim.
00:08:44Marco wasn't in a gang, but he was shot simply for wearing a gang color -- red.
00:08:50In the city of oakland, you feel like a prisoner.
00:08:53You can't wear red. I won't even wear red.
00:09:59It's got to be one of these.
00:10:00Today, melero and his partner are going to check out two addresses where zapper's mother used to live, hoping to spot him.
00:10:08If you see that man, well, right behind him, there's a white door, and it appears to be in between two vietnamese businesses.
00:10:14Well, that's the door we're looking at, and apparently we just had a female hispanic enter that address.
00:10:20Is that her? that's her.
00:10:23It's a long shot, but a hispanic woman tied to one of the addresses d could even be one of his relatives.
00:10:29She could be family -- maybe a mom or something.
00:10:32See if she goes through here.
00:10:34If she goes back up here, that's a big clue.
00:10:36That's a clue and a half, huh?
00:10:37Behind the car, the woman turns into the second address the officers are scouting.
00:10:47So, I mean, obviously there's a connection there.
00:10:49Those are the two addresses that we're looking at.
00:10:52What's the chances of that?
00:10:52Yeah, she walks out of one and walks into the other.
00:10:56Just had a female hispanic exit one and walk into the other.
00:10:59So there's still a connection.
00:11:01There's still probably family living here.
00:11:03The two addresses are now on the gang-unit radar, but a raid will have to wait.
00:11:09If we hit that house and he's not there, well, obviously the search warrant is gonna read that we're looking for him for murder, so we don't want to do that.
00:11:15We don't want to let them know that we know about it.
00:11:19This is how the gang unit operates.
00:11:21They watch and wait for their chance to strike.
00:11:26They are careful because they know the gangs are not.
00:11:30For the gangs of oakland, keeping a low profile is seenas a weakness.
00:11:35And the weak get preyed upon.
00:11:43And they funk.
00:11:45Today javier and the rest of his crew w are going out do just that, to go funking -- street slang in oakland for a risky game of chicken.
00:11:55In this case, they are going out for a ride in rival gang territory.
00:11:59Javier: From here to there, that's the 90s area.
00:12:04Narrator: Norteños' turf begins in the 60s AND STRETCHES BEYOND THE 30s, Right where javier and his crew are headed.
00:12:17Javier and his boys are not just cruising.
00:12:21Dressed in black, the color of their gang, this ride is meant to antagonize their rivals, the norteños.
00:12:30And it makes them a target, so they have to keep moving no matter what.
00:12:36[Bleep] that [bleep] javier's van is overheating.
00:12:43But stopping anywhere in this neighborhood is not an option.
00:12:47It's too dangerous.
00:12:49He starts running stop signs and speed bumps, trying to find a safe block to pull over.
00:13:04Just pull in here. alli vive, al otro lado.
00:13:14They've found what they think is a safe haven deep in the rival gang's territory.
00:13:25But here, they could be killed simply for what they're wearing -- colors of the wrong gang.
00:13:31Javier: If we broke down a couple of blocks away from over here, let's say like seven more blocks, there would be some [bleep] going on.
00:13:47Narrator: A red car passes by, the color of the rival gang.
00:13:50And it looks like it's turning around.
00:14:10Javier:BLOOD, WHAT THE [BLEEP] The car seemsto be coming back, heading backtowards javier and his crew.
00:14:19[ Dog barking ] [ engine turns over, indistinct conversations ] the 9400 boys make a hastyretreat back to their home turf, BACK TO THE 9s.
00:14:43But they've been seen.
00:15:03This is the essence of gang life in oakland, baiting your rivals to react.
00:15:09And after today's drive, the norteños may make a call of their own.
00:15:13Javier: We ain't punks, man.
00:15:15Like, anybody trying to harm us, that's for sure, we're gonna go and get them, man.
00:15:25Narrator: Up next, the game doesn't stop behind bars.
00:15:29Gangs run deep inside oakland's jail.
00:15:33And later, the gang unit gets one step closer to finding the suspected killer, zapper.
00:15:39Then, in front of javier's house, bullets fly.
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00:18:33Reporter: Everyone's trying to figure out what's going wrong in oakland.
00:18:36Narrator: Oakland, california -- a city torn apart by an all-out gang war.
00:18:41On out with your hands up before I sent the dog!
00:18:44An team of eight gang-unit officers battles an army of gang members.
00:18:50There are more than 22,000 people on probation and parole here -- per capita, more than any other city in america.
00:18:58For the gang unit, the probationers are the front line in trying to stem gang violence.
00:19:04Keely: He's a known border brother member.
00:19:06He's on parole for shooting somebody.
00:19:09Known gang members on probation can be searched at any time.
00:19:14And any sign of gang involvement -- gang colors or tattoos -- is reason enough for an arrest.
00:19:23So gang members are constantly on post, looking out for the police, also known as 5-0.
00:19:30The police is the number-one enemy out here, you know, especially the o.p.d.
00:19:36[ Police-radio chatter ] if police was to pull up right now, there's no doubt in my mind they would try to arrest every last one of us.
00:19:45Narrator: Most of these norteño gang members have already done time and are on either probation or parole.
00:19:53A stop by the police could send them straigto jail.
00:19:59Just around the corner, a scout spots a police car heading their way.
00:20:03Norteño: [Bleep] come on, roll.
00:20:06Go to the back, go to the back, go to the back.
00:20:09The gang members carrying drugs, guns, or anything else that can get them arrested scatter while the others keep an eye on the cruiser parked just down the street.
00:20:22Well, we just know they're watching the front.
00:20:26Watching, just watching anybody, so, you know, they're just ready to blurp.
00:20:30[ Siren wails ] the norteños may have escaped arrest tonight, but this is the never-ending game of cat and mouse -- cop versus gang -- on the streets of oakland.
00:20:40If you choose to, you know,come back to the same place where you got in troublethe first time, you'll probablyget in trouble again.
00:20:47Narrator: Once released, gang members rarely leave their old ways behind.
00:20:51Melero: Hey, can you put your dogs away?
00:20:52Narrator: So this is how the gang unit keeps tabs on a potentially violent group of criminals.
00:20:58It's a series of small battles.
00:21:00You got to keep them on their heels.
00:21:03I mean, you got to let them know that we're out there and we're gonna take them to jail any chance we get.
00:21:11Narrator: Santa rita jail, the revolving door for many of oakland's gang members.
00:21:16There are more than 4,000 men behind bars here.
00:21:21Nearly two-thirds of them have gang affiliation.
00:21:24The first stop for any new arrival is gang classification.
00:21:31Here, officers catalog tattoos, figure out what signs the inmates know, and interview them to determine what gang they belong to.
00:21:42Come on.
00:21:43Take it you run with the sureños? yeah.
00:21:45What's n.k. stand for?
00:21:50The intelligence gathered here goes beyond the walls of the jail.
00:21:54It is vital information to the gang unit on the street.
00:21:58But classification is also a key to survival in a jail that is, like the streets of oakland, dominated by one latino gang -- the norteños.
00:22:08Brandwood: When they get into the jail, they got to claim, "okay, if I'm a sureño "and I say I'm nothing -- if I don't say anything "and they put me in a pod with a bunch of norteños, " Narrator: The threat of violence is a reality that forces the jail to segregate the gang members.
00:22:27In here, the same latino gangs that run oakland's streets -- the norteños, the sureños, and the border brothers -- have their own turf assigned to them by the jail.
00:22:37Man: These are our border brothers over here, and we have our sureños over here.
00:22:43Orange dictates it's the sureños.
00:22:45That way we can see them and we know that they are sureños by just looking at them.
00:22:51And there is no confusion of who they are.
00:22:55Narrator: But segregation has a darker side.
00:22:58It also allows the gangs to strengthen their bonds.
00:23:03Border Brother: Oakland -- that's where we're from, representing the border brothers.
00:23:07We're representing our people, you know, our raza, our latinos, and everything, making sure, you know, there is somebody out there that have their back no matter what.
00:23:15Narrator: It is here that hierarchies are set, rituals are taught, and younger members are hardened, ..
00:23:25Sized up by gangsters like lucky.
00:23:29There's some guys out there in gangs that are just -- just out there shooting, robbing, doing whatever they're doing just 'cause they like it.
00:23:38And those are the ones that move up in the ranks -- the ones that are putting in work, the ones that are actually gangbanging.
00:23:48Those are the norteños we want -- the ones that don't give a [bleep] they don't care, that all they have is us to live, breathe, eat [bleep] and die for.
00:23:58Those are the ones we want.
00:24:00Narrator: While going to jail may get the gangs off the street, it's anybody's guess ..
00:24:08Or whether jail just makes them worse.
00:24:13Up next, the gang unit sets up a stakeout to get zapper.
00:24:20Melero: Okay.
00:24:21And later, a deadly oakland tradition -- the sideshow.
00:24:25And then, in front of javier's house, a shootout.
00:28:07[ Sirens wailing ] Narrator: On any given night in oakland, california, the sound of gunshots fills the air.
00:28:16Man: I don't know, man. I don't know.
00:28:18I hear the gunshots in the background.
00:28:20All I know is that there's gunshots and they're giving out speeding tickets.
00:28:22And I'm trying to figure out what's going on, man.
00:28:25Narrator: There are up to 2,000 gang members on the streets of oakland.
00:28:32Fighting against them are eight elite officers who form oakland's gang unit.
00:28:37For them, it's a war that's impossible to win.
00:28:40We're not that big of a unit for a city this size, so we kind of got to pick and choose our battles.
00:28:46: Right now, sergeant brandwood, officer melero, and the rest of the team are on the trail of a suspected murderer.
00:28:53The suspect's street name is zapper.
00:28:56But after two weeks of searching, the trail seems to be going cold.
00:28:59Do you got his phone number?
00:29:01Whose? zapper's.
00:29:02I thought you hada cellphone for him.
00:29:05We have an old one.
00:29:08I've never triedrunning an address.
00:29:11Brandwood: The problemwith these guys is they're -- especially the sureños -- they don't leavea lot of paper trail behind them anywhere they go.
00:29:20So, I mean, it's just really hard to get up on these guys once they don't want to get found.
00:29:27There's a lot of departments that'll go knocking on doors where this guy may be.
00:29:31Well, you do that, and then you alert the guy that he's wanted.
00:29:34And then the next thing you know, he goes on the run.
00:29:36He goes down to mexico or somewhere, and you got nothing.
00:29:39Narrator: Zapper still has no idea he's wanted by the gang unit.
00:29:43And with no solid leads, officer melero is out patrolling known gang turf.
00:29:49Oh, there he is, right here.
00:29:51And just ahead, he spots a familiar face.
00:29:54[ Police-radio chatter ] what's up? what's up?
00:29:58It's zapper's cousin, ..
00:30:04And someone that could lead the unit to zapper.
00:30:08[Bleep] relax. what's your name?
00:30:11Known gang involvement in oakland is cause enough to get you searched.
00:30:15And the officers take advantage of the opportunity.
00:30:19You forgot about that?
00:30:21They find incriminating evidence -- a knife and a set of jingle keys -- filed-down car keys that are tools of the trade for car thieves.
00:30:30Well, well, well.
00:30:32And the young gang member is not carrying identification.
00:30:37Officer melero sees an opening.
00:30:40You have one of two choices, okay?
00:30:42We can take you to jail for this, and then we know who you are.
00:30:46Or we can take you to somebody in this area thnows who you are, that can tell us your name.
00:30:54What I'm thinking.
00:30:56Let's take this guy back to the house.
00:30:58...To take the cousin to a known sureño hangout in hopes that zapper might be there.
00:31:05The plan is a long shot, but with few clues in the case, it may be the only shot the gang unit has.
00:31:12Thhe bt.
00:31:14Melero: Well, here's our plan.
00:31:16This guy's got no i.d. we just stopped.
00:31:18 he's got a bunch of jingle keys.
00:31:21We've stopped him before in front of 58th avenue, and we know there's people there that can give us his name.
00:31:28So we're hoping that in doing so, in getting HIM I.D.'d, There may be a murder suspect that walks out of that house.
00:31:36Keep your eyes peeled.
00:31:39How you doing?
00:31:40She's trying to tell us his name.
00:31:43You probably can't see him in the backseat.
00:31:46Narrator: This is all just a stall tactic to see whether someone else -- namely zapper -- comes out of the house.
00:31:53 you're not lying to us?
00:31:58There's no sign of zapper, but the girl confirms the cousin's identity, providing a link between zapper's family and the gang safe house.
00:32:07It may be a thin connection.
00:32:09But with few other clues to go on, the gang unit is going to keep a close eye on the house.
00:32:20Up next, a chaotic stunt show on the streets of oakland.
00:32:27Officer: If you're gonna get him, get him now.
00:32:28Narrator:..The gang unit closes in on zapper.
00:32:31[ Gun cocks ] get on the ground. get on the ground.
00:32:37Turn right up ahead.
00:32:38so, now I just have to wing it.
00:32:43I meant turn left up ahead.
00:32:46Recalculating. turn right now!
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00:36:33Narrator: There are as many as 2,000 gang meers on the streets of oakland.
00:36:39And today, the city's gang unit is hoping to put one of Man: Right here.
00:36:46Brandwood: Basically, what we're gonna do is we're gonna pick up where we left off with the sureño, zapper, the homicide suspect.
00:36:53Officer bunn is gonna set up surveillance over there on 58th avenue to see if this guy pops out.
00:37:00If cliff sees your guy setting up, r to there.
00:37:03We'll set up a quick arrest team and go in and get the guy.
00:37:05Narrator: It's week four in the hunt for the murder suspect, zapper.
00:37:10And the unit is on a stakeout of a known gang safe house with ties to his family.
00:37:15Nearby, officer melero and the rest of the team post up, waiting for word, waiting for a sighting.
00:37:26Bunn:20, And haven't seen a sign of anyone at the house yet.
00:37:34Melero: Basically, we're just waiting on the undercover officer to let us and he's out in front of the house.
00:37:41And once he tells us that, we're gonna go there with guns drawn and take as much cover as possible.
00:37:47So, yeah, we have to realize that is a possibility.
00:37:51Copy, cliff.
00:37:52Narrator: They soon start to spot known gang members, including another of zapper's cousins, street name bandit.
00:38:06Other gang membersstart to arrive.
00:38:17If so, zapper may be on the way.
00:38:20There's some people hanging out, so we probably just should get ready.
00:38:23[ Police-radio chatter ] Copy.
00:38:39Hours pass, and still no sightings of zapper.
00:38:45[ Cellphone rings ] all right.
00:38:49But then melero gets an unexpected call.
00:38:52Yes, sir, yes, sir. go ahead.
00:38:54It's a c.i. -- a confidential informant.
00:38:58Yes, sir, yeah.
00:38:59The informant saw zapper driving in the early-morning hours.
00:39:03Black hood and jeans.
00:39:06They also spotted the car's license-plate number.
00:39:09Mm-hmm. hold on one second.
00:39:12Let me write that down, sir.
00:39:15Okay, five.
00:39:15It's the break the gang unit has been looking for.
00:39:18 and that's for sure him?
00:39:20All that remains is running the tag number and finally getting an address.
00:39:25Want to try it, please?
00:39:32OVER IN THE 90s, JAVIER AND HIS CREW Are picking up parts for the van to fix the radiator.
00:39:38Tonight's a big night, something that snoopy and the rest of the 9400 boys look forward to all week.
00:39:46It's an illegal oakland tradition -- the sideshow.
00:39:52After the clubs close on the weekends, the spontaneous car show can pop up on any corner.
00:39:59Alit takes is one car to start doing doughnuts, and the crow arrive, taking over the intersection.
00:40:05The crowds cheer on drivers skidding their cars in circles, and sometimes they become part of the show themselves.
00:40:15Seen again, this car spins out of control, slamming into a spectator.
00:40:24Once a showcase for drivers to show their moves, gangs have started to come out to the sideshow, and the violence has followed.
00:40:32Fights are the least of the problems.
00:40:35Just this year, there have been dozens of shootings and five murders tied to the roving event.
00:40:40 we don't [bleep] around. yeah.
00:40:43And although the oakland police have stepped up their efforts to control things, the violence continues.
00:40:49The sideshow has become just another battleground in the escalating gang war.
00:40:54And it's where javier and his crew will be taking the van tonight.
00:40:59A tune up on it so it can run better, 'cause sometimes either you got to run from people or you got to chase people.
00:41:09A good car can be the difference between life and death.
00:41:18[ Siren wailing ] night falls, and javier's crew starts to post up in preparation for the sideshow.
00:41:31Like most of the gangs on the street tonight, and stoned.
00:41:39Javier's friend snoopy knows it can be a dangerous scene.
00:41:59[ Imitating gunfire ] Narrator: Some of the crew heads o while javier, raoul, and snoopy head back to the van.
00:42:35With the streets crawling with rival gangs, anything can happen at any time.
00:42:46Out of sight, a car pulls up, heads straight for the 9400 boys.
00:42:54[ Gunfire ]