New Mexico Gang Task Force official Tamera Marcantel says a meeting of community activists, social workers, tribal officials and police officers at Isleta Pueblo represents a gradual shift in the state's approach to combating gangs. Thursday's meeting, which was organized by the task force and a coalition of advocates, was designed to foster new ideas on gang prevention and ways to reform gang members.
Marcantel says the multi-agency state entity was focused for years on law enforcement attacking gangs. She says state officials now believe New Mexico needs to start creating more prevention and re-entry programs. Among the suggestions were increasing the number of gang prevention programs aimed at youth and programs to help inmates readjust back into society.
Marcantel says after advocates create a list of ideas, state officials will release details on how New Mexico should begin adopting some of the proposals.
Meanwhile, officials say New Mexico's prisons are seeing a rise in white supremacist gang memberships as some white inmates seek protection against largely Hispanic gangs. State officials say membership in white supremacist gangs has nearly doubled in state prisons over the last 10 years, and state officials worry the numbers may continue to rise.
Dwayne Santistevan, administrator of the state's Security Threat Intelligence Unit, says white supremacist gangs are involved in a number of criminal activities and often battle with Latino gangs. Santistevan says white supremacist gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood and the Nazi Low Riders are affiliated with gangs in other states. He says at least two Hispanic inmates are members of white supremacist gangs.