Detectives have identified gangs with a consistent presence in Sonoma County and those that are emerging today with growing memberships and criminal involvement. This list likely is incomplete and, with the ever-changing nature of gangs, could be true today and outdated tomorrow.
With an estimated 1,500 members in Sonoma County, norteños are under the direction of the Nuestra Familia prison gang, which has a constitution and a strong regional hierarchy that requires taxes from the local groups. Locally, members are mostly native-born Latinos and, unlike sureños, the gang also includes whites, blacks, Asians and American Indians. About half identify as simply norteño and the remaining members fall under specific groups, including the following:
Varrio Santa Rosa Norte, VSRN: Sonoma County’s oldest norteño gang. They claim all of Santa Rosa and have at least 250 ranking members.
Varrio South Park, or VSP: About 90 members. Last year, a federal indictment charged eight members with racketeering, attempted murder and drug trafficking.
Varrio Pachucos Locos, or VPL: Members identify with West Steele Lane, Heidi Place and Northcoast Street. About 100 members.
Aztec Tribal Cholos: Started in Ukiah and expanded to Santa Rosa. About 100 members.
West Side Windsor: Members of this gang were convicted of the 1996 attack in which 16-year-old Dylan Katz was almost beaten to death for wearing a red shirt. At least 100.
NX4: About 50. Members of this gang were convicted of manslaughter in the 2010 stabbing that killed a 25-year-old non-gang member outside a house party.
Much smaller groups are H-Town along Grove Street in Healdsburg and the tiny Barrios Cliques Norte in Cloverdale.
In Sonoma County, sureño gangs have roughly 1,500 members who are mostly Latino, often immigrants or the children of immigrants and rarely, if ever, have members of other ethnicities, according to police. The sureños answer to the Mexican Mafia prison gang, formed by newer immigrants who felt they needed protection against Nuestra Familia.
Since 2009, three people were killed during a dispute between two different groups of sureños over Southwest Community Park in Santa Rosa. These groups also have a hierarchy that connects groups throughout the state, however it is less rigid than the norteños.
Like norteños, about half identify as simply sureños and the remaining members fall under specific groups, including the following:
Puro Sureño Cholos: More than 300 members. Identify with West Ninth Street, Jacobs Park, Rockwell Place and Apple Valley Lane.
Varrio Sureño Locos, or VSL: About 300 members, they claim an area of Roseland between Sebastopol Road and Bellevue Avenue and identify with Sunset Avenue in Roseland and Kenton Court in Bellevue, police said.
Angelino Heights, or AH: Tattoos of “Neville Way” illustrate their claim of an area between Hearn Avenue and Todd Road. Feuding with Varrio Sureño Locos. Maybe 150 and growing.
La Primera: Founded in Petaluma and Rohnert Park, the La Primera gang was born in the early 1990s when a pair of sureño brothers moved here from the Los Angeles area. Today, their ranks include about 100 people, according to police estimates. Moving into Santa Rosa.