WEATHER »

Santa Barbara Gangsters


Thick aromatic smoke from burning sage leaves settled over the salon of La Casa de la Raza as a Chumash elder smudged the crowd gathered for this year’s Cinco de Mayo festival. Teenage girls in red, white, and green dresses from the Alma de Mexico dance troupe hurried purposefully to the stage. Small children played on the floor under mysterious murals of eagles eating snakes. They watched curiously as dancers in feathered Aztec headdresses swished by. The party celebrating pride in Mexican heritage was peaking with people, laughter, music, and atmosphere.

Along one wall, tables offered literature about various services - healthcare, recreation, and immigration law - available to the community. Gathered at the corner table was a group of boys, one of them wearing a “Brown and Proud” T-shirt, asking questions about the Homie Turf to Surf Program. Responding to their inquiries were two young men -active members of Santa Barbara gangs - spreading the word about the unique surf camp they formed together two years ago. For two weeks in August, Manny Raya (pictured left) and J.J. Ortiz (to his right) take gang members to the beach and teach them to surf. Their hope is that the Pacific Ocean will blow wide open the hearts and minds of the young homies and that they’ll be able to imagine a future outside of street life. That’s what happened to Raya and Ortiz, both of whom are now in college.

Raya is from the Westside, Ortiz is from Goleta Old Town. In other circumstances, they would be enemies. But having forged a partnership based on a love of surfing, they recruit gangsters from every neighborhood to be part of their project that promotes discipline, fun, a respect for nature, and a truce among Mexican-American brothers.

Raya is from the Westside, Ortiz is from Goleta Old Town. In other circumstances, they would be enemies. But having forged a partnership based on a love of surfing, they recruit gangsters from every neighborhood to be part of their project that promotes discipline, fun, a respect for nature, and a truce among Mexican-American brothers.

The Homie Turf to Surf mission fit in perfectly at La Casa’s Cinco de Mayo fair, of which this year’s theme was Unidad en la Communidad. Unity in the Community.

HOZER V. STRANJER

A few blocks away, but a whole world removed, the lives of two other homeboys had played out much differently. In Judge Frank Ochoa’s courtroom, the 5th of May was the day the jury in the Jose Romo murder trial retired to begin deliberations. Romo, affiliated with Varrio Goleta Projects based in Goleta Old Town, was accused of first-degree murder in the shooting of David Montanes, a veteran member of the Rock Creek gang, based in eastern Goleta Valley.

As the jury filed out, Montanes’ family stayed in their seats. The air in the quiet courtroom seemed heavy yet full of anticipation now that Romo’s fate was in the hands of the jury who had heard weeks of testimony about guns, drugs, graffiti, tattoos, and rumbles.

The Law Won: Jose “Hozer” Romo, a member of the Goleta Projects gang, was recently found guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of David Montanes Jr. The state will automatically appeal his murder conviction. While Romo was affiliated with Goleta and Montanes with Rock Creek, insiders say the beef between the two was more of a personal conflict than one involving gang rivalry.

The jury heard the prosecution’s description of “criminal street gangs,” and the theory that Romo, whose gang moniker is Hozer, had killed Montanes, nicknamed Stranjer, over gang rivalry and a drug debt. And it heard Romo’s account that he shot Montanes - ironically a childhood friend from when they both attended Goleta Valley Junior High - in self-defense, that it was Montanes who was pursuing him.

With Montanes’ mother Emily Herrera as their anchor, his family and friends had been keeping silent vigil over the proceedings. Today, there was nowhere else they wanted to be. Their boy was dead, and for him, justice would be found in this room with its importantly high ceilings, ornate wood trim, and huge windows covered by thick somber drapes. No need for sunshine in criminal court, a place that happiness always passes by.

FOZZY

Manny Raya sports a Mohawk hairstyle and a silver spike stud piercing under his lower lip. Taking off his shirt, he reveals fine, elaborate tattoos on his upper arms. His white tank-top undershirt shows off his deep brown skin and accentuates his full deltoids that are decorated with names of deceased friends and gang symbols.

When he’s walking down State Street, people move out of the way of the striking young man with full-blown attitude in his Chuck Taylors, big white T-shirt, and baggy pants with a bandana hanging out the back pocket. “I’m a gangster,” he said. “I’m offended the word has a negative connotation.”

Going by the nickname Fozzy, Raya likes to fight. Going fist-to-fist with another guy gives him a rush. Mixing it up, pow, pow, pow, he says. Finding out who can best who, then it’s over. They dust themselves off and go their separate ways - each having claimed his neighborhood and proudly defended his streets, his homies, his school, even the families that make up his community.

But Raya suppresses his urge to fight. He’s older now, just turned 24, and he’s a philosophy student at UCSB. He’s got a job at Urban Outfitters. He runs a surf camp for South Coast youth, and that involves applying for grants, speaking to teen groups, and soliciting donations from surf shops, as participants get to keep their wetsuits and boards after the program.

He looks back at his criminal activities, not with regret, but with an understanding that he isn’t that person anymore. Those actions don’t fit with his current set of morals. Now he would never steal a car or break into people’s homes, he said. Over are his days of carrying weapons to a gang fight - as he once did, running around with a sharpened wooden stake. He takes his job seriously, and he plays equally hard, meeting girls at Wildcat and dancing until his clothes are soaked with sweat.

A closer look at his tattoos reveals his complex life story. An ocean wave, carrying a caricature of Raya and his surfboard, rolls through his neighborhood, past the Housing Authority complex where he grew up on the lower Westside. Paying homage to his commitment to higher education, one tat reads, “Seeking Knowledge for the Love of Wisdom.”

Most of all, Raya wants to set an example for his fellow homies that they have options in life. He and Turf to Surf partner J. J. Ortiz are careful not to preach at any of the young surfing students. That would be hypocritical as Raya and Ortiz are not “former” gang members themselves. They claim allegiance with their respective gangs and would proudly back up their friends. “You don’t have to give that up to be part of the larger society,” Raya said.

PRISON BOUND

Guilty of murder in the first degree. Guilty of lying in wait for the victim. Guilty of discharging a firearm. Guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. The jury foreman made his pronouncements loud and clear to a hastily convened courtroom - no one had expected the Romo jury to decide the case after less than two days of deliberation.

On such short notice, the gallery was empty except for Romo’s common-law wife, Erica Sanchez, and the private investigator who worked for Romo’s attorney. Sanchez, the mother of Romo’s children, sat alone until the investigator moved closer to her and put an arm around her shoulder. Sanchez had tears in her eyes, but didn’t make a sound.

None of the Montanes family was present. Scattered throughout the courtroom were eight sheriff’s deputies - on hand to prevent the defendant from bolting after being found guilty of serious crimes. Three of them hovered around Romo, and once the verdict was read, while the judge was still reciting legal formalities, a deputy came over and handcuffed him, the clinking of the locks audible throughout the room.

The guilty verdicts mandate a sentence of life in prison, with no chance of parole. Cadena perpetua, they say in Spanish. Cadena means “chain.”

TAZ

Asking why a boy would join a gang is a middle-class kind of question. All the obvious psychological reasons apply - a need for acceptance, recognition, a sense of belonging, and a desire to prove oneself. Poverty plays a part, as does institutional racism in the schools - at least for Santa Barbara’s mostly Latino gangs. And certainly, teenage hormones are a contributing factor. Yet, ask a kid why he “bangs,” and the simple answer is, “This is who I am.”

Older brothers and uncles, their close friends, whom they’ve played with since toddling together at the playground - all grew up in the gang culture. Violence and crime are certainly part of the equation, but at the core of their society is a fierce loyalty to each other. Breaking your word brings great dishonor. Snitching to the authorities is the ultimate sin.

Homies won’t tolerate heroin and methamphetamine addicts in their inner circle. Junkies are often beaten up and cast out of the group as they cannot be trusted to keep their mouths shut if busted by the police. But smoking pot and drinking beer recreationally - and even selling drugs - is part of the lifestyle.

The bond among homies is forged on the streets of their neighborhood, as most don’t have their own bedrooms or the resources to take karate or guitar lessons. On a recent Sunday morning, the sidewalk outside the public housing complex in Goleta Old Town served as a meeting place, as it often does, for the local homies.

A young teen drinking a grape soda, his breakfast, met up with a couple of other neighbor boys on South Kellogg Avenue. They made the unhurried conversation of close friends.

Soon another young man walked up. “Hey homes,” he said, greeting each of the others with an obligatory handshake of sorts - they first slap hands sideways then knock fists together. Another and yet another teen comes out of the projects. The greeting ritual is repeated around the loosely formed circle. Talk drifts to playing handball later, over at the UCSB courts. But no one’s in a hurry. It’s Sunday, the overnight Goleta Valley mist was slowly burning off, and time was lingering rather than marching on.

The boys in the hood are kickin’ it.

To Housing Authority employees watching from the office window, however, Goleta Projects gangsters have gathered on the street and are loitering. A sheriff’s patrol car has turned the corner at Armitos Avenue, apparently called by suspicious staff. But the car cruises by without stopping, the drive-by serving as an unspoken warning that the neighborhood is being watched.

J.J. Ortiz and his friends took the cruiser in stride. They’ve lived under scrutiny of law enforcement their whole lives. Shaking his head and throwing up his hands, Ortiz asked, “What else do these kids have to do?”

There used to be a basketball court in the middle of the housing complex, but it was torn out and turned into a parking lot. Gesturing across Kellogg to a cultivated field, he said, “They should put a handball court there for us.” (The Goleta City Council did try to buy it from the Sumida Nursery family to create a park, but they wouldn’t sell.) The boys don’t feel comfortable at the Goleta Boys and Girls Club, officials of which, they say, cater to the “paying” customers - the children in the daycare program. But they also admit to being kicked out of the facility when they’ve caused trouble.

Goleta Old Town, the area children, mostly Latino, are bused to other Goleta Valley schools, a system that conveniently achieves racial integration for the school district. For the youngsters, busing enforces the idea of territoriality. Other childhood experiences shape their view of the world - having to wear cheap unfashionable athletic shoes, staying in foster homes when their parents run afoul of the law, feeling like school teachers care more about the “white” kids, growing up in a culture that has little expectation of college for its young people.

Stealing becomes a reasonable way to get things otherwise unattainable. And nearby Isla Vista provides “easy pickins,” according to one homie. The students, often away from their apartments, have a lot of toys. After burglarizing a few homes, a guy gets good at it. The “jackpot” is finding a gun - that precious instrument would go into the gang’s cache of weapons.

Even as their antisocial behavior drew the attention of police and they became “tracked” as gang members, the boys forged a community within the projects. One guy might have a loaf of bread, another family has some peanut butter. Together, the kids have lunch. As young children they would play in front of the complex, keeping watch for an approaching police car so they could run and warn the older gang members.

Their camaraderie was evident on this summer day, as Ortiz, nicknamed Taz, was shooting the breeze with old friends, Goofy, Midget, George, Little George. Gang members are given nicknames that describe their personalities or physiques; sometimes they are named after older relatives. For instance, Oso might have a younger cousin, Lil Oso, and they might have an even younger cousin, Baby Oso. Ortiz’s moniker is short for Tazmanian Devil.

At 24, Ortiz is the father to two girls, one of them just turned five, the other is six weeks old. He attends Cal State Northridge and wants to be a teacher. In addition to organizing for Homie Turf to Surf, he works as a tattoo artist. Ortiz first dreamed of surfing when he’d accompany his mother, a housekeeper for Montecito beachfront homes, to work. Watching the surfers, he’d think, “That’s not my world.”

Leaning against a street tree, Ortiz reminisced about the homies gone-by whose names are carved in the bark: Tigger, Solo, Dreamer, and Risky. Cartoon, 16, is in prison until he’s 21. The kid couldn’t catch a break, Ortiz said, being raised by a drug-addict mother. The boys are planning a visit and look forward to Cartoon’s release.

As the gathering appeared to be breaking up, Ortiz seemed reluctant to leave Old Town. It’s too quiet at his Turnpike-area apartment house. “I miss the kids running around, where everyone knows everyone’s chisme (gossip), and you can buy elote (corn on the cob) from street vendors,” he said.

Perhaps he misses the simplicity of childhood as well. He’s raising a family on what he earns from tattooing and piercing, and he and his “lady,” both born and raised here, are toiling to pay rent and survive in their beautiful but economically cruel hometown. And having grown up in a single-mom home, Ortiz wants to be a good father to his daughters. “I longed for my dad to teach me something, to be there for me.”

As the party wound down, an 11-year-old boy, lips purple-ish from eating a frozen juice bar, circled the group on a small bicycle. One of the older boys rubbed the kid’s head and threw a few pretend-punches at his ribs, causing him to giggle shyly. The youngster will be part of the next wave of G-13 homies.

NEW AGAIN

After a surge in gang activity in the early 1990s, Santa Barbara community leaders formed task forces, applied for grants, and launched numerous programs aimed at addressing the gang problem. Santa Barbara police established a gang unit and nonprofit groups looked at ways to increase positive activities for youth so that they would build self-esteem and reject violence. The Pro-Youth Coalition formed, and new resources went into the Police Activities League (PAL) program.

Things calmed down toward the end of the decade and the new millennium dawned with regular, but low-level, gang commotion among the South Coast’s major gangs - Carpinteria or Carpas, Santa Barbara’s Eastside, Santa Barbara’s Westside, and Goleta Projects, or G-13. Rock Creek, based in the San Marcos High School area, organized itself into what law enforcement recognizes as a “criminal street gang” only in recent years.

Going back to the 1940s, young men have been forming groups such as the car clubs Brown Sensations and Style Unlimited, and the territorial surfer clique Cito Rats, white punks on dope from Montecito. But none of them have ever fit the police definition of a gang, even when factions from these populations - old-school cholos versus bad-ass beach bums - engaged in the occasional tussle. In the last two years, South Coast street gangs have gotten all juiced up again. Tagging is on the rise, and gang-related arrests went from 189 in 2002 to 369 in 2004. There have been 12 gang-involved homicides since 1992, when none had been reported since 1980. Hilary Dozer, the prosecutor in the DA’s office who deals with gang crime, said his workload is growing, with all his cases right now involving Eastsiders.

There’s a demographic phenomenon in which the teenage boy population According to police authorities, the South Coast has “turf” gangs, not “enterprise” gangs such as those in Los Angeles that organize to commit crime and defend territory as their place to sell drugs or steal-and-fence stolen goods. Here, defending one’s neighborhood may mean going into rival turf and tagging, or spray-painting graffiti, on a wall to register a challenge.

Within each gang there are subsets or cliques. Goleta, for instance, has a group living in the South Kellogg projects, another in the Nectarine Avenue area. On the Eastside, the raging clique right now is the Traviesos (the mischievous ones). In late June, stabbings in Goleta and Carpinteria appeared to be gang-related. But an estimated 1,000 incidents a year go unreported, say police. Beatings, non-fatal stabbings, and minor skirmishes take place in the dead of night, on dark side streets as homies walk home after work, or hanging on State Street. It’s a small town for everyone, but especially for gang members. In the tight housing market, a Westsider can’t help but rent an apartment on the Eastside sometimes, or date a girl living in rival territory, creating a Romeo-and- Juliet scenario. The police can’t stay on top of every confrontation.

SCRAPPY

Living among these statistics - and contributing to them - is Scrappy, a 16-year-old Travieso living on East Montecito Street. The drive up to Scrappy’s home takes you past the Penny Wise Market, across from Eastside Library, a sometime gathering spot for young homies. Bald of head and baggy of T-shirt, these kids kick it on the sidewalk while Riviera residents, riding in Lexus and Mercedes style, zip past, up to their hilly neighborhoods.

On a recent Tuesday night, Scrappy’s hood is happening. A gaggle of petite Mexican-American girls, probably in junior high and wearing extremely tight jeans, is in the middle of the road, going who-knows-where at 8:30 p.m. And thumping dance music is coming from a house where about 20 people, women and men of all ages, have congregated for what can only be described as a Christian rave.

Scrappy is home. His parents are not. He’s not sure where they are. His sister, 19, is at work, cleaning offices for Servicemaster. Her two-year-old son is playing with Brownie, a cute, overweight Dachshund. The front door is unlocked and people come and go freely - one of the bedrooms is rented by three brothers from Mexico.

Scrappy could be any young kid living on the Eastside. No tattoos, baby-faced, wearing shorts and athletic shoes, deferential to elders. He said he was “jumped in” the Traviesos when he was 13. (A new member is jumped in, or beaten up, by three or four guys as part of initiation.) He came away with a black eye, a shoe mark on his head, and, “I was peeing blood,” he added sheepishly. Someone had kicked him good in the kidney. He told his mother he was playing football. Did she believe that story? “No,” he said.

Every time he leaves the house, his mother tells him to make the sign of the cross. His parents are originally from Mexico; dad works as a landscape gardener, mom as a hotel housekeeper. Scrappy has a job, too. He works almost full-time at an auto- detailing shop and attends El Puente, a school for students transitioning from the criminal justice system back into school. His paycheck goes to some of the household bills, even as he serves out his probation for assault and battery. He was in a fight and accidentally hit his teacher.

At 16, Scrappy’s smooth face bears small nicks and scars, reminiscent of a tomcat who stays out all night. One scar, he says, is from when someone hit him with a piece of wood with a nail in it. That’s why the homies named him Scrappy - he was always getting into scrapes. He is proud of his fighting and brags about the Traviesos’ animosity toward rival gangs.

Rumbles can happen anywhere, anytime. Partying in Isla Vista one night, Scrappy and his friends ran across what he called “Nazis,” skinhead white kids from Los Angeles or Orange County. “They called us beaners,” he said, and the fight was on, though Scrappy’s memory is sketchy on the details, as he was knocked out by a club to the head. Racial pride bordering on racism is a fundamental aspect of gang life; black kids are rarely welcome in a Latino gang.

Personally, Scrappy is trying to “kick back.” He has gangbanged at a fast pace for the last three years and wants to complete probation. His girlfriend has calmed him down a bit, he admitted. “I haven’t went back to [Los Prietos Boys] camp because of her,” he said. “I’m not looking for trouble. I’m not active. But when I try to do good, bad comes to me.”

Involved in Los Compadres, a program of the Community Action Commission that helps young men live lives of integrity, Scrappy has benefited from the guidance of counselors who were gang bangers themselves. He knows the fate of incarcerated homies; he’s heard about his counselor’s older brother, who stabbed someone in prison, was moved to isolation, and hasn’t seen sunlight in seven years. The guy walks 30 feet from his cell to the showers, and that’s it. But Scrappy also knows about Manny and J.J. from Turf to Surf. He knows they go to college. He’d like to learn how to surf, except he doesn’t know how to swim.

It’s almost 10 p.m. in Scrappy’s living room and the screen door opened without Brownie the dog erupting into a barking tirade. He knows it’s his mistress, Scrappy’s mother. Joining her are her brother, who also lives in the house, and a female friend, who’s wearing a Servicemaster vest. They bustle in the kitchen, unwrapping take-out food, and sit down to a late dinner, apparently after finishing up the evening shift at their various jobs. The toddler runs out from the back bedroom - grandma is home.

BLESSINGS

With her cane in one hand and a bottle of holy water in the other, Maria Serrano, grandmother of slain David Montanes, slowly walked the 20 yards from her backdoor to the parking lot where her grandson fell dead two years ago. It is her nightly ritual to sprinkle water on the spot where he was gunned down in her housing complex on East Ortega Street.

Daylight lingered on this warm summer night as she said a quick, silent prayer. Serrano was home the night of the shooting, Easter Saturday of 2003. She heard the gunshots and came out of her unit to find a scene of unspeakable horror - her grandson down, bleeding, dying, with police swarming and neighbors panicking. The street was quiet now. Bedtime peace was falling on the neighborhood. In her apartment, a more serene image of David looked out over the living room.

Hanging on the wall is a photograph of his face, framed together with a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe. He is in the Virgin’s care now. She who is watching over David’s brothers and friends, and all the young men who call themselves homeboys.

LETTERS

GANGSTA WRAP

I read your article on gangs [“Gangs of Santa Barbara,” July 7] and feel compelled to share my disgust and alarm with your choice of topics to not only elaborate on, but feature on the cover. As a peace officer, I am extremely angry that you chose to glorify this lifestyle and behavior. Hard-working law enforcement officers need no reminder of gangs and the crimes they commit. We see the impact gang members and their actions have on victims within this community, as well as the damage and pain they cause, sometimes in the furtherance of their gang.

I realize that aspects of your article regarding Manny Raya and J.J. Ortiz impressed the possibility of leaving the gang while succeeding in life in the “real world.” (So why focus on their “full deltoids,” “dark brown skin,” and “elaborate tattoos”? You have pictures of men throwing gang signs and you used Old English script in your article, another indicator of gang affiliation.) However, the majority focused on the crimes they’ve committed, their monikers (if they’re so “cool” why didn’t they, or you, use their real names?), the incessant fighting and violence that persists between local gangs, and a virtual roadmap of how one might be jumped into a gang. Mr. Raya and Mr. Ortiz should be commended for pursuing higher education, but focusing on their negative, violent, crime-filled past is wrong.

Ms. Murillo’s flowery language cannot take away the potential danger gang members present to the safety of the community. To depict gang lifestyle and behavior as “cool” or newsworthy is socially irresponsible and unacceptable. People in this field work diligently to steer young minds away from the tantalizing vacuum of this lifestyle, and what do you do? You put gang members on the cover! Your article has done nothing but perpetuate the gang mentality. Of additional concern is that The Independent is free and available to everyone. It’s available near schools and neighborhood community centers. It’s there to influence the youth of our community, and in my opinion, this article is reckless and negligent.

You have effectively given our local gang members their 15 minutes of fame and I’m sure they’re loving it. -Courtney DeSoto Deputy Probation Officer

•••

I found Cathy Murillo’s article on gangs to be informative and thought-provoking. Murillo’s in-depth and objective exploration of the gang subculture in Santa Barbara provided me with a perspective that dispelled a lot of my stereotypical thinking about gangs. I never would have imagined gang members as surfers and college students. I can’t help but think that some readers may see the two young men Murillo interviewed as being a bad influence because they claim active gang membership. Admittedly lots of gang activity isn’t benign or beneficial, but the reality is that young boys do join gangs; and I see the presence of J.J. Ortiz and Manny Raya at gang level as a positive influence to younger gang members. They are able to introduce gang members to an activity that may eventually lead to their relinquishing gang membership. I also see Ortiz and Raya as role models demonstrating to other marginalized youth that there are options open to them that include school and college. On the other hand, I see Ortiz and Raya as walking a thin line and I wonder what happens when their allegiance to the gang conflicts with their roles as fathers, college students, and surfers. I wish them both luck in their surfing and college endeavors. -Sonya Baker

•••

Dear Mayor and City Council, Yesterday there was a disturbing act of gang violence in front of my house, in broad daylight, just a block-and-a-half from one of our most cherished tourist attractions, Paseo Nuevo Mall. As a 22-year resident of Santa Barbara, I am one of those who hear about gang violence but never imagine it happening 30 feet from my front patio. And though I was disturbed, I was not totally shocked-over the last couple months, the amount of gang activity on my block has been increasing exponentially.

I recently noticed that several harmless-looking juveniles began hanging out and smoking in front of my patio. Then I started to notice little bits of gang-sign graffiti in the area. And now the entire neighborhood is strategically littered with graffiti. These seemingly harmless juveniles have marked this territory “WS.” That wouldn’t be so bad, if that’s where it ended.

As a resident of the downtown area for 15 years, I understand what type of unpleasant city noises are to be expected. But my neighbor and I have heard gunfire twice in the last 10 days. And last Saturday night, at 4 a.m., there was apparently a loud hit-and-run accident and exhibition of speed that woke up the whole neighborhood. This was followed by yesterday’s clash of gangs that involved more than a dozen youths in an attack with bricks and two-by-fours. The fight ended with a screeching car speeding away, but not before the other gang, yelling “Westside,” threw a brick through its back windshield. Broken glass littered the street, and neighbors, who had come outside to investigate the commotion, all stood watching in disbelief. You don’t have to connect too many dots to see where this type of violence is headed.

When I called the mayor’s office, I was directed to leave a message for Councilmember Iya Falcone, who did not return my call. Sergeant Beecher at the SBPD did return my call and assured me that she would hand off the matter to the appropriate officers. I told her that in the meantime, I hoped to see more police presence in the neighborhood. I was a little dismayed when she implied that this would not happen because, as she said, there was not much that the police could do if the kids were just hanging out. I appreciate the help she gave me, but I would like to point out that people don’t need to be illegally harassed to understand that they are being policed.

As a citizen concerned with my safety and that of my good neighbors, I would like to know to whom in the city government I should speak. -A Arthur Fisher

The story “Santa Barbara Gangsters: Behind Their Flesh and Bones” [July 7] erroneously stated that Cartoon’s mother is a drug addict. Our sincere apologies to Cartoon and his family.

CLARIFICATION

We would like to emphasize that two of the principal sources for last week’s cover story, “Gangs of Santa Barbara,” are not currently engaged in any gang activity. Manny Raya and J.J. Ortiz operate the Homie Turf to Surf program, helping at-risk youth make positive life choices while gaining a love of nature through surfing. Raya and Ortiz are employed and attend college. Any interactions Raya and Ortiz have with active gang members are pursued solely in the interest of reaching out to young men who may benefit from their surf camp.



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