VIA Plott Hound
Sureño 13 is in Kinston, and the California-based gang wants you to know it.
Seemingly overnight, gang tags appeared at Emma Webb Park, on brick walls on Independence and North Queen Streets and on the walls of Grainger Stadium.
Large, spray-painted tags included terms common to law enforcement, like “Sureño 13,” “Sureños Trece,” “SUR 13” and the large “Brown Pride” phrase written on the side of the historic baseball stadium.
Sgt. Dennis Taylor, who leads the Kinston Department of Public Safety’s gang unit, said officers were aware of Sureño 13 activity in southern Lenoir County, around Pink Hill, but not within the city.
The gang isn’t so much a monolith, but an umbrella criminal organization meant to primarily offer protection and project force in prison, according to information from the Rocky Mountain Information Network, a regional organization for law enforcement. The many different Sorteño gangs in Southern California are known for routinely warring with each other.
Different law enforcement studies have shown East Coast franchises of the gang tend to be more independent, but Taylor said they still get orders from a coordinated point.
“Some do, but they still have a shot-caller,” Taylor said. “Someone is actually giving them orders to go out and do criminal activities, whether it’s vandalizing a building and doing their signs, which shows ownership of that turf around it.
“Not that they own anything, because they don’t.”
A presentation by the N.C. Gang Investigators Association showed Sureño 13 as one of the top five Latino gangs in North Carolina, and one of the top five overall. They’re known for independently selling drugs bought from Mexican drug suppliers, and also much more.
“Their basic operation is a host of criminal activity, from drugs, weapons, human trafficking, murder,” Taylor said.
He later added that the tags, while marking territory, are also meant to raise the gang’s profile.
“Maybe they haven’t had it, because we have all the other gang activity going around, and maybe they want to step theirs up,” Taylor said. “You know, it’s all about being seen and heard.”