Kern Valley State Prison transfers out Norteno gang due to concern over increasing violence

Prison guards found 30 weapons in sweep

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Today, Kern Valley State Prison shipped out the last of the Nortenos--a northern Hispanic prison gang. Making today the first day in four years KVSP has been back to normal.

It all started in 2009 when a large riot broke out between the Nortenos and Surrenos--a southern Hispanic prison gang--in which one Surreno inmate was killed.

For four years the prison tried to reintegrate the two groups, but it proved unsuccessful.

"The problem here is it is ground zero for the incident and murder of the souther Hispanic on that yard," said Lt. James Harden, the KVSP Gang Investigator.

In March, another riot broke out between the Nortenos and Surrenos.

"Multiple inmates were stabbed and received pretty severe injuries as a result of that riot," said Lt. Jeff Smith, the KVSP Spokesperson. "Based on that we've decided to ship the northern Hispanics out."

Possibly in the nick of time. A couple of weeks ago, officers conducted a sweep of inmate cells.  

Officials said typically they find five to ten handmade weapons a week, but during that search found nearly 30 weapons that week, all in the facility housing the Nortenos and Surrenos.

"One of the criteria for the southern Hispanics dictated by the Mexican Mafia is that they have a weapon readily accessible at all times in case of something going on," said Smith. "So it looks like they were gearing up for something. Possibly and hopefully with this decision to remove the northern Hispanic population it will put a squash to this issue between the two groups at least at Kern Valley State Prison." 


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