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City authorities working to pacify street gangs

March 16, 2013

The municipal governments across the Guadalajara metropolitan area are working to prevent young people from being drawn to a life of crime in the many street gangs that plague the city.

Twelve street gangs from the rundown neighborhoods of Miravalle, Lomas del Paraiso, Oblatos and El Zalate have struck a peace agreement brokered by the city’s Public Safety Department, Director Carlos Mercado Casillas announced this week.

Through the department’s Prevention of Youth Violence program, local youths are encouraged to dedicate their free time to cultural activities such as making hip-hop music and painting graffiti-style murals, instead of indulging in petty crime. A second phase of the program will then offer them scholarships to study or opportunities for employment.

According to the municipal government, there are around 200 small but violent street gangs in 60 neighborhoods across Guadalajara. In addition, there are over 400 gangs in 29 Zapopan neighborhoods and another 68 street gangs in Tonala.

From October to date, Zapopan’s Public Safety Department has arrested 1,350 people involved in street gangs, of whom approximately 200 were aged under 18. They are commonly found in possession of knives, handguns and drugs, revealed David Mora Cortes, the director of the department.

Zapopan Mayor Hector Robles said this week that the recently established Municipal Training Institute will provide care and training for more than 10,000 young people in 2013, in a bid to keep them from turning to a life of crime. A similar program in Tonala will renovate public parks in order to create a safer environment, as well as providing psychological care for gang members and attempting to integrate them back into society through sporting and cultural activities.

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