Tag Archives: gangs

Tagging Burbank – Part 1, Is There a Gang Problem in Burbank?

February 4th, 6 p.m., gunshots are heard coming from Lundigan Park in NW Burbank. Burbank Police report it is a suspected gang-related retaliation hit, with a single victim suffering a gunshot wound to his lower body. It was later determined that while the victim and shooter had gang affiliations, the shooting incident was triggered by a domestic dispute, and not directly related to gang activity.

Does Burbank have a gang problem?  Is it real?  A perception?

After being arrested for DUI, the driver who caused the accident is led to a police car where he will get a much safer ride to jail  The accident occurred at the Victory and Parish around 2 am Saturday, November 5, 2011.  The driver was taken to the hospital for injuries while the driver was booked for DUI.    (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

According to Sgt Claudio Losacco, Public Information officer with the Burbank Police, there is an increase of gang tagging and suspected activity in an area that is north and west of N. San Fernando Blvd. and W. Empire Ave. Other sources indicate the activity may involve two large and well-organized Los Angeles-area gangs which may be either recruiting or attempting to form in areas of Burbank adjacent to North Hollywood.

December 31st, 2:30 p.m., an 18 year old man is shot in a suspected gang-related “drive-by” incident in the 200 block of W. Verdugo Ave.

According to a former local law enforcement officer who requested not to be identified, Burbank has historically had several Hispanic gangs with a presence in the city, although some may not currently be active, or openly visible. The list included 4 named gangs, although myBurbank is withholding those names based on a policy not to advertise or “glorify” any gang or antisocial organization.

The former officer further explained that most gangs in the Burbank area were not well-established as criminal gangs, but were rather smaller groups that were trying to hold neighborhood “turf” as part of a need for identity and connection with others based on ethnicity or other cultural connections.

Those gangs did in some cases act as “farm teams” for recruiting members into more established, or organized gangs.

There is evidence of activity from several gangs, with increased tagging and other presence in the area identified by Sgt Losacco being the most visible. According to one area resident, “we do not want gangs feeling comfortable in this neighborhood, nor trying to establish any kind of presence.” Note that no interviewees contacted for this article, other than the Burbank Police Department, wanted their real identity published, for fear of retaliation from gangs.

On Saturday morning myBurbank photographers drove throughout the city looking for evidence of tagging or potential gang activity. The search did not reveal any sign of new or fresh tagging, and in fact only revealed a couple of tags that wee likely several years old.  This included industrial areas within Sgt Losacco’s interest area, several area pars, industrial areas along Interstate 5, the Clyburn corridor, Chandler corridor, along San Fernando Rd, and numerous alleys in both industrial and residential areas of the city.

The larger gangs, including those LA-based groups identified by Sgt Losacco, may be transnational (present in several countries) in nature, and further affiliated with violent organizations such as the Mexican Mafia, and Russian organized crime. Those gangs are often identified as being involved in the drug trade, weapons, enforcement, and even murder.

In many cases the local or regional gangs are used by the more established organizations as “hired help” used for enforcement, including assault – and in some cases murder, trafficking of drugs, and handling of other controlled items.

The former officer indicated it was his opinion these gangs were in the Burbank area more in an attempt to recruit new members, rather than set up any concentrated activities within the city.

A recent parolee from the state prison system, and former gang member, indicated during a recent drive down Victory Blvd. between Hollywood Way and Buena Vista St., that he was able to identify at least three gang members openly active along the route, and in his opinion likely attempting to make contact with middle and high school students walking alone or in small groups.

Does this prove Burbank has a gang “problem?”

Let’s look at crimes. The following chart, using numbers reported by Burbank Police on Crime Mapping (crimemapping.com), show the following crime data (note September 2015 only has data available for the second 3 weeks of the month).

Crime Statistics in Burbank Sep 2015 - Feb 2016

Statistically, this does not show any significant increase in crime categories during the periods of media reported gang-related incidents in December and January, with the exception of a surge in December related to Theft/Larceny.

According to Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, the majority of crimes reported or investigated in Burbank are either shoplifting, or automobile burglary.  This may involve some level of organization, however, Chief LaChasse also advised that most suspects in this category of crime “come from the outside, not from within Burbank.”DUI Arrest Victory & Burbank -1

Violent crime, such as assault, only accounted for an average of 9% of all reported crimes, with December and January showing a percentage point decline from November (from Crime Mapping).

While it is hard to reject the idea gangs have a presence in Burbank, Chief LaChasse notes that large, established gangs “do not have a foothold in Burbank.” However, Chief LaChasse also noted that Burbank sits in the middle of cities, notably Los Angeles, which do have a gang issue. “We cannot build a wall around Burbank,” and gang members will enter the city from North Hollywood and other points.

In April 2015 two men were assaulted, one with gunshot wounds, the other beaten, outside of the Burbank Town Center following a movie at the mall’s AMC theater. The incident was thought to be gang-related. The incident was investigated, and it was determined that members of rival gangs had both entered Burbank to view a movie, encountered each other in the theater, and a violent fight followed. It was further suggested that since in many gang operating areas, there are simply no theaters, and often gang members may enter Burbank, Glendale, or Pasadena for the purpose of seeing a movie, and encounter rivals at or near the theater.

Burbank has received some financial support for law enforcement gang units under California’s Assembly Bill 109 (2011). However, Chief LaChasse emphasizes if the situation warrants, the Burbank Police are fully capable of responding to any situation, including the potential of an expansion of gang activity. At this point Chief LaChasse does not believe Burbank has a specific gang “problem,” although the department will continue to aggressively monitor gang activities both inside Burbank, and in surrounding cities and communities. Officers are continuously trained in gang awareness, and all fully understand the implications of allowing gang activity to extend into the community.

Part 2 of this series will focus more on the history of gang activity in Burbank, starting in the 1980s until recently, and will include more interviews with current and former Burbank Police officers, as well as current and “retired” gang members.

Part 3 of this series will introduce techniques the city and residents can use to respond to signs of gang activity, as well as more importantly prevent our youth from being recruited into gangs.


Drive-By Shooting on Verdugo Avenue Gang Related

An 18 year-old man was transported to St. Joseph’s Emergency Room Thursday with a gunshot wound to the upper left shoulder. While treating the victim, hospital officials notified the Burbank Police Department who responded officers to the ER.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Police interviewed the victim and found that he had been shot in the 200 block of West Verdugo around 2:30 Thursday afternoon. Police responded to the scene to investigate.

Their preliminary investigation revealed that a black sedan, occupied by two Hispanic males, drove by and yelled gang related obscenities and shot at the victim and his friend.

The victim’s injuries do not appear life-threatening.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Detective Brimway at (818) 238-3278 or (818) 238-3000. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous.

Gang Fight Puts One In Hospital And Leads To Two Arrests

Members of the same local gang got into a fight at Olive Park on Thursday, May 1, around 5:50 p.m. The victim, a 19-year-old Burbank resident, was allegedly assaulted by 20-year-old Cesar Ramirez, also a Burbank resident, according to Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department.

BPD New Police Car -2On Friday, May 2, at 7:00 am., officers were sent to Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center to check on a male victim who suffered a right eye fracture and head trauma.

“The victim was in the hospital after being assaulted the previous day at Olive Park,” said Ryburn. “Victim stated that he was playing basketball inside the gym waiting for his brother, who was working nearby. After finishing the basketball game, the victim walked outside of the gym… [and] began talking to the suspect and some other friends of the suspect.”

“Suddenly, the suspect punched the victim in the right side of his head with a closed fist,” added Ryburn. “The impact was to the right eye/upper cheek area. The impact caused the victim to lose consciousness and fall to the ground.”

The victim “does not know if the suspect and the other members continued to punch him as he lost consciousness,” continued Ryburn.  “The victim does not remember calling his brother or being driven to the hospital.”

The victim is continuing treatment at the hospital.

On May 2, investigative officers contacted the identified suspect, Ramirez, at Olive Park at 4:55 p.m. Ramirez was arrested for the assault, charged with felony battery. He was also charged with multiple violations of the penal code including intimidating a witness and probation violation.

His bail was set at $100,000 and he is due in court Monday, May 5.

While officers were looking for Ramirez at Olive Park, they spotted his twin brother, Fabian Ramirez, age 20 and a resident of Valley Village. When officers tried to contact Fabian Ramirez, he ran away from police, explained Ryburn.

Officers pursued Fabian Ramirez on foot across Olive Avenue and found him under a parked car. He was arrested for resisting arrest and was booked at the Burbank Jail. His bail was set at $10,000.

Officers noted there were bottles of alcohol in paper bags at the location where Fabian Ramirez was first seen in the park, added Ryburn.

Police are not releasing the name of the local gang of which the Ramirez brothers and the victim are members.

Burbank Man Arrested For Spraying Gang-Related Graffiti

Police arrested a Burbank man on Sunday for spray painting gang-related graffiti on the wall of a business near San Fernando Boulevard and Frederic Street.

BPD police Car Logo-2Officers on patrol in the area at 2:25 a.m., April 6, saw 23-year-old Abraham Lopez writing gang-related graffiti to a wall on the 2500 block of N. San Fernando Boulevard.

“When they approached, the suspect threw the spray can and attempted to flee,” said Lt. Eduardo Ruiz of the Burbank Police Department. “He was detained before he could get away.”

“Lopez had paint on his fingers which matched the spray can paint and the paint applied on the wall,” added Ruiz.

Lopez was booked at the Burbank Jail for vandalism with an additional charge for participation in a street gang, because of the gang-related graffiti. His bail was set at $40,500.