A street gang tied to the prisons in southern California has been rattled in Florida after it's members are sentenced to hard time.
Florida state prosecutors ended a 4-year racketeering case last week according to the Sun Sentinel after obtaining sentences of up to 55 years in some instances for members of the SUR-13 street gang.
According to investigators who spoke to the Sun Sentinel the gang is very active in areas where low income, and immigrant Mexican's live. Assistant Special Agent In Charge Jay McNamara with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit told the Sun Sentinel that the SUR-13 is organizing quicker, and attracting more young people then other gangs in the West Palm Beach, Broward County, and Homestead areas. "They are always recruiting. They are always looking for the teen who doesn't fit in." McNamara said.
ICE worked with the Florida authorities to arrest and charge the gang members with immigration and criminal charges. According to the Florida attorney general's office the last 3 of a group of 14 individuals received there sentences last week. They include, Victor Castillo, 29, of Greenacres, who received 45 years in prison, Roberto Trejo, 22, of West Palm Beach, was sentenced to 50 years and Jose Sanchez, 30, originally from Texas, got 55 years.
Eleven others negotiated plea deals which saw them receive sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years in prison according to the Sun Sentinel.
McNamara stated that the SUR-13 gang still is known to shoot it out with rivals, as well as, sell narcotics it has however branched out into human trafficking and also identity theft. The gang gets it's name from Southern United Raza (SUR) and 13 being the the letter M for Mexican in the alphabet the Sun Sentinel reported.
During the trials of the 14 now convicted gang members, testimony came out of that the SUR-13 burning a house down to avenge a fellow "Surenos" death, as well as beating a homeless man to death with a two by four according to the Sentinel.
Surenos is Spanish for 'southerner' and according to the Sampson County Sheriff the gang originated in 1968 when the Mexican Mafia and the Nuestra Familia was involved in a bitter gang war which resulted in California being divided between north and south within the Mexican gangs. The Surenos operate independently on the streets of California however are under the thumb of the Mexican Mafia in the prison system,
Sergeant George Anthony with Broward County's Sheriffs office stated "It definitely disorganized the gang. It put them in a state of disarray for a few years."