November 19, 2010

AP Story on Neb. Gang Arrests Takes the PC Route

Persistent pursuit of a story by journalists has in all too many cases been replaced by a dogged determination to keep politically incorrect facts out of important stories.

An Associated Press item out of Grand Island, Nebraska this morning illustrates this point. It’s not very difficult to identify aspects of the story reporter Josh Funk worked mightily to leave out (bolded items hinting at what’s not there and related number tags are mine):

Neb. gang raids yield 14 arrests, promises of more

A massive central Nebraska raid may have decapitated a violent gang, but officials say they have no plans to let up and allow the group to thrive again in the Plains manufacturing and retail hub of Grand Island.

The arrest of a dozen suspected gang members was trumpeted Thursday after 120 officers from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security [1] and local law enforcement agencies conducted simultaneous raids in the 50,000-resident city 125 miles west of Omaha. Two more arrests were made Thursday evening to complete the gang roundup.

Local officials welcomed the effort to rein in gang activity but law enforcement offered few details about their continuing investigation into the East Side Locos, which has ties to the international Surenos gang based in southern California [2]. Officials refused to discuss specifics of the gang’s activities and origins Thursday.

On Wednesday, an FBI SWAT team captured a 24-year-old Grand Island man indicted on 11 federal weapons charges and three federal drug charges. [3] Eleven more suspects were captured between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday as teams of officers served arrest warrants throughout the area. Two suspects that eluded capture in the morning raid were arrested Thursday evening after Grand Island police received a tip.

… Mike Feinberg, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations within ICE [4],aid the East Side Locos is one of the largest criminal organizations Grand Island has ever seen and “one of the most violent criminal street organizations in Nebraska.”

Feinberg’s agents help track international aspects of gangs, and over the past two years Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested 80 gang members, including some in Grand Island. [4] But Feinberg refused to detail the East Side Locos’ international ties or say how many of those 80 arrests were made in Grand Island.

On Wednesday, an FBI SWAT team captured a 24-year-old Grand Island man indicted on 11 federal weapons charges and three federal drug charges. Eleven more suspects were captured between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday as teams of officers served arrest warrants throughout the area. Two suspects that eluded capture in the morning raid were arrested Thursday evening after Grand Island police received a tip.

… The 14 indicted men face a combination of federal weapons and drug charges or state drug and gang recruitment charges. They all lived in Grand Island and were either U.S. citizens or legal residents. [4]

Notes:

  • [1] — So the FBI and Homeland Security were involved. This must relate to a domestic street gang in the lily-white heartland, right?
  • [2] — Oh, wait a minute, these guys had ties to an “international” gang. Gosh, I wonder what other “nation(s)” might be involved?
  • [3] — Funk seems to have singled out this “24-year-old Grand Island man” because he was considered a ringleader or the ringleader. He has a name, right?┬áIn a 750-word story, Mr. Funk somehow didn’t think we needed a to know it. Well, here’s a complete rundown of those arrested and two who were still at large at the time from local-area reporter Sara Geake, in descending order by age at 1011Now.com: “Gilbert Ontivernos, 33; Jose Hernandez, 32; Jose Espinoza, 31; Luis Cruz, 30; Herman Pacheco, 26; Joseph Pecor, 24; Eddy Cervantes, 24; Hugo Galaviz, 22; Anthony Holroyd, 20; Jose Alcorta, 20; Raymond Caseres, 18; and Ricky Amador, 18 were arrested between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Two fugitives remain – 18-year-old Adrian Casares and 22-year-old Andrew Esquitin.” Gosh, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that the Eastside Locos are (or maybe were) a H-H-H … Hispanic gang (per this link, they are), and perhaps even M-M-M … Mexican in origin (per this link, they aren’t, at least directly). The word “Hispanic” and no form of a word relating to “Mexico” can be found in either Funk’s or Geake’s stories. But Geake named names. Funk’s omission of the 24 year-old Cervantes’ name (he’s the only 24 year-old in the group) seems deliberately designed to avoid identifying the ethnic origins of the Eastside Locos and their parent gang in Southern California.
  • [4] — Hold on; ICE was involved? Why? That may be because, despite Funk’s last excerpted sentence, some gang members might be ill-ill-ill … illegal immigrants. While assuring us (How does he know? Shouldn’t there be a quote from someone?) that those arrested “were either U.S. citizens or legal residents,” Funk doesn’t tell us why ICE is even involved, or why its spokesman Feinberg is the guy getting lots of microphone and camera time. Funk also seems not to know and/or not to be curious about the immigration status of the “80 gang members” arrested by ICE (the “I” stands for “Immigration,” Mr. Funk) in the past two years.

As I stated at this post’s opening, it’s not about getting the facts, it’s about filtering them. The AP’s Funk has definitely done his “duty.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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