WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — New details have been released regarding a former county employee arrested in connection to recruiting juveniles to a local street gang.
A Washington County Sheriff’s Office incident report says that around May 31, a detective with the sheriff’s office was contacted in reference to a request for help from Springdale police.
The detective, who was assigned to the FBI’s Northwest Arkansas Safe Streets Task Force, said that he was made aware that there was an employee at the Juvenile Detention Center who had potentially been communicating with Savage Locos gang members in Springdale.
The report say that the gang is known to be violent and dangerous, and to actively recruit juveniles from the Northwest Arkansas area.
“I have personal knowledge of the above having taken part in controlled drug/firearm purchases from members of Savage over the years,” the detective wrote in the report.
On June 1 the detective met with members of the Springdale Police Department Crime Suppression Unit, which had obtained a search warrant on May 11 for Rogelio Ramirez’s Instagram page. The report says that Ramirez is known to be the leader of the Savage Locos in the area.
According to the report, it became apparent that Ramirez had been actively recruiting numerous juveniles into the gang from Northwest Arkansas schools. It was also discovered that he was having contact with someone claiming to be a Juvenile Detention Center employee.
Springdale police had concern that Ramirez seemed to be aware of what was happening with the juvenile gang members even before police did when it came to JDC matters.
Instagram messages between Ramirez and Clara Garcia, a JDC employee, were located and reviewed by detectives.
At one point, Garcia sent a voice message that was transcribed as “I’m looking out for them” in reference to “Ramirez’s boys.”
Garcia mentioned multiple times throughout the messages the names and court dates of various boys related to Ramirez and the Savage Locos gang.
“By Clara telling Ramirez what days the children had court, if they were housed together, confirming whether they were detained or not, I believed this to be a violation of the statute,” the incident report said in reference to a juvenile records confidentiality misdemeanor that Garcia is accused of.
The detective met with Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett and the two decided that the matter should be discussed with Judge Stacey Zimmerman of the Juvenile Court Division.
The two met with Zimmerman on June 12, and she explained that Garcia worked for her.
Garcia had worked for the JDC but had recently been transferred to work for Zimmerman as a Juvenile Probation Officer. A warrant was obtained to seize all of Garcia’s personal and county-owned devices for a search.
Garcia, 31, of Fayetteville, was arrested on June 23.
Tad Sours, a spokesperson for Washington County, said that Garcia was officially terminated on June 27.
Sours said that Garcia was first hired with the JDC in December 2017 before voluntarily leaving in March 2021. She was rehired with the JDC in December 2021 before being transferred to work in Judge Zimmerman’s juvenile court on March 1, 2023.