SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Day four of Santa Barbara's gang injunction trial brought new insight into the city's gang problem.
Greg Anderson, Chief Deputy District Attorney from Fresno County testified Thursday.
The criminal expert spent countless hours with local law enforcement from Santa Barbara County touring gang turfs and crime scene locations, researched videotaped gang-related crimes from our area, and spoke with less than a handful of gang members about the hierarchy of the Suernos' tax-paying structure.
Anderson also said his expertise helped him implement seven gang injunctions in Fresno County alone, and numerous throughout the country.
In Anderson's opinion, Santa Barbara's two distinct gangs -- Eastside and Westside -- meet all the qualifications for the structure of criminal street gangs.
They're turf-based, have continuous, cyclical criminal street gang activity -- times of war, violent attacks, drug sales -- mixed with a decrease in criminal activity when leaders go to prison.
Anderson links both Eastside and Westside gangs to Southern California's larger Sureno prison set.
"You're so used to Santa Barbara being the beautiful place to go," said Anderson. "When you have criminal activities, like the murder on State St. that started all this, it really jolts you and your system. You have to reach out for ways to correct that problem. And this is one of the ways."
Most injunctions have an "opt-out" provision, giving people a chance to come forward once the restriction is in place. But Santa Barbara is considering a pre-deprivation hearing, which would allow them to come forward before the injunction goes to trial.
If approved, it would be a first for California.