PHOENIX, Arizona — There is concern among Phoenix police officers that proposed changes by the city’s police department to restrict officers from contacting immigration authorities will lead to an explosion in gang violence similar to the one that gripped the city in the 80’s and 90’s.
In recent weeks, Phoenix officials have been discussing changing the city’s Police Operation Orders with a revision that would not allow officers to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during traffic stops or investigations, Breitbart Texas reported. Before an officer can contact ICE, they “must first contact the Violent Crimes Bureau (VCB) desk Sergeant who will document all immigration related data and give authority to call ICE.” Currently, officers have the discretion to call ICE or any federal law enforcement agency while carrying out investigations or during traffic stops. Other policy changes point to a softening view on immigration by the department under pressure from city leaders.
Current and former Phoenix cops who spoke with Breitbart Texas have revealed their concerns about how such a soft stance could have serious repercussions on the levels of crime in the city.
Due to years of neglect of enforcing our immigration laws and a steady flow of illegal aliens pouring across our virtually unprotected southern border, the street gang dynamics changed drastically in the late 80’s and 90’s in Phoenix. Many factors contributed to the changes but one of the most noticeable during this time was the emergence of illegal alien street gangs that took hold and eventually became the largest and some of the most violent in the city.
Phoenix began documenting gang activity in the late 1970s, and in 1986, the emergence of Hispanic gangs made up of illegal aliens became a concern for authorities. Just east of the center area of downtown, in what is known as the Mexican-American barrios, authorities began to document the organization of street gangs made up of illegal immigrants.
The first gang that rose from that area took up the name “Mojado Power,” a derogatory term for illegal aliens from Mexico meaning “wet”. They primarily organized to protect their members from traditional Mexican American (Chicano) street gangs. Due to cultural differences, the traditional Mexican-American gangs would not accept the illegal aliens and would initially victimize them. Over time, the “Mojado Power” gang changed its name to “Wetback Power” or “WBP.” With the continued lack of border control and immigration enforcement, the “Wetback Power” gang grew rapidly to become the largest gang in the Phoenix metro area. The gang split up into numerous sets throughout Phoenix and the surrounding cities. The gang transformed from being a group that formed to stop being a victim into becoming the aggressor and targeting other gangs. As the “Wetback Power” gang continued to grow into the mid 90’s, different sets or factions began to fight with each other leading to multiple splinters and the creation of other gangs. In the late 90’s there were well over 1,000 documented “Wetback Power” gang members and many more associates.
During their internal conflicts and in fights with other gangs, “Wetback Power” became responsible for assaults, drive-by shootings, murder, and became heavily involved in auto theft, residential burglaries, as well as the street level drug sales on behalf of Mexican drug cartel cells. By the 90’s, every public high school in Phoenix had a faction of the “Wetback Power” gang or another offshoot of an illegal alien gang due to the growing illegal alien population which had reached over 500,000 by 1995.
The original “Wetback Power” gang was made up of almost all illegal alien teens and young adults from Mexico. The current gang is still the largest in the city by the number of members and continues to present challenges due to their propensity for violence and the or rapid expansion into most of the city and suburbs.
One of the concerns faces by gang investigators deals with the “Wetback Power” gang members joining other more violent gangs once they enter the prison population such as the Border Brothers, a violent prison gang that as Breitbart Texas has reported, is made up solely of illegal aliens.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)