Alleged Latin King Gang Members In Holland Attended Local Schools

Posted at 7:52 PM, Feb 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-13 19:52:59-05

Holland Police say two men are still on the loose, wanted in connection with a federal indictment.

They are Jose Hernandez and Uvaldo Ruiz.

Twenty-nine of the 31 men on the list, wanted for crimes associated with gang activity, have been picked up.

Although some members of the community associate gang members with larger cities such as Chicago, the men listed in the indictment had long-standing ties to the Holland community as youth.

We found that many of the men that were listed in the indictment said that they went to Holland High School or West Ottawa at one time.

Alleged Holland Latin King Chapter Leader Francisco Martinez Jr., known as Chubaka, indicated that he attended Holland High School along with Antonio Rios.

Andrew Penaloza said he went to West Ottawa.

Although the suspects are much older, current students say there is a gang presence at the schools.

The students told us that despite a handful of teens who claim some sort of gang affiliation, they typically they don’t have any trouble at the school.

They said the school does a good job of keeping them safe.

“I think every school has a gang problem,” said Michael Pitts, a student at Holland High School.

Students like Pitts say they are aware there are teens at the school who have some kind of gang affiliation.

“I know a lot of Vatos Locos, Latin Kings, but I don’t associate myself with them,” said Pitts.

The students we talked to say they are not afraid either.

“They’re pretty calm. Most of them go to VR Tech. They don’t really come here. Most of them, you don’t know if they’re gang members until they say something,” said Pitts. Holland Public Schools has a no tolerance policy for gang activity and gang colors are not allowed in school.”I’m kind of glad because if they didn’t do that, people would probably get into fights almost every day,” said Pitts.

“They have more strict rules than they did a couple of years ago and they do a pretty good job, said Laura Calmo, a senior at Holland High School. “I haven’t seen any issues this year, and they have it under control”.Holland Police do have some concerns about the arrests and the void it may create in the criminal organization.

They hope young people who are thinking of becoming involved in gang activity don’t take the bait.

“Whenever a significant investigation happens, it leaves a vacuum and in some ways an opportunity for others to get involved, said Jack Dykstra, Holland Police Captain. “I think an important message is, how many years potentially they’re going to go to prison for it and then weigh the benefits and disadvantages of getting involved in gang activity because it just doesn’t pay.”