FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Police say the Savage Locos street gang in Northwest Arkansas are targeting youth and community leaders offer ways to prevent recruitment.
A former juvenile probation officer Clara Garcia was arrested for a misdemeanor after police say she released confidential juvenile records and gave that information to Rogelio “Speedy” Ramirez, alleged leader of Savage Locos.
An incident report from Washington County detective Brian Magee says Ramirez was recruiting members for his gang from Northwest Arkansas schools.
Rafael Arciga Garcia, board member for the Hispanic Women’s Organization in Arkansas, says as a society, we have a responsibility to our youth to make sure they stay away from gangs.
“That begins with making sure that we provide both information and access to services and resources,” Rafael said.
He also says the youth needs to be introduced to positive opportunities in the community.
“Whether that is going to be something happening at the local library and afterschool program, providing them with the inspiration of a better future,” Rafael said.
Executive director of the Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition Sarah Moore says if a child or young adult joins a gang, it is the community’s fault.
“It’s a failure that we haven’t been able to address and identify how we engage individuals in a different way in our community where they can be productive and be a part of our community in a way that they can thrive,” Moore said.
Rafael says it’s important parents have conversations with children to help them feel empowered to say “no” or to tell a trusted adult when asked to join a gang.