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Gang-related graffiti rises in Moses Lake

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | September 21, 2021 1:05 AM

MOSES LAKE — Gang-related graffiti, mostly on fences and walls along Division Street, have sharply risen in the last two weeks, according to Moses Lake Police Department Chief Kevin Fuhr.

“Taggings have increased significantly,” Fuhr said. “There were more reports today at Division and Nelson, Ninth and Division. They are very active.”

Fuhr said the graffiti, which contains gang symbols and is done in the style of some street gangs, is the result of a dispute between the Sureños and Norteños criminal street gangs, both of which originated in California.

“They are feuding right now, and I think they are actively recruiting,” he said.

Fuhr said the targets of the tagging are “any flat surface that people can see” and are likely done by new, younger members “just starting to get active.”

“There’s a lot of mutual tagging,” Fuhr said. “And they tend to tag close to where they live.”

According to a guide to gang symbols published by the Everett Police Department, some of the graffiti along Division Street bore the marks of the Norteños, such as “XIV” (the number 14 in Roman numerals), as well as the phrase “Farmland Soldiers North$ide.” The markings have been seen elsewhere, too, such as in the Paxson Drive area.

“I’ve never heard that one before,” Fuhr said of the farmland soldiers tag, noting while both criminal gangs use different monikers, “it’s either red or blue” — the Norteños or Sureños.

Fuhr said it’s difficult to figure out who is responsible for graffiti unless they are caught in the act, but MLPD officers are trying to “decipher who is doing it” and obtain the evidence needed to make an arrest.

The chief also said officers on patrol are “keeping an eye out for anyone who is out in the middle of night,” especially kids and teenagers who should not be out at night anyway.

“It’s another thing officers should be watching for,” Fuhr said.