Snohomish County cops spend summer trying to root out gangs

They are listening for rumblings of retaliation by rival gang members. They are paying attention to new faces and rumors. They are looking for kids who want a hand getting out of the gang lifestyle.

Snohomish County sheriff’s school resource officers, along with a Mountlake Terrace police officer, are taking to the streets again to crack down on gangs. This is the third summer the officers will focus on gang enforcement and intervention efforts.

Police say the June 17 fatal attack on a Marysville teen in Sultan is more tragic proof that gangs operate in Snohomish County and are bringing violence to even the most rural communities.

“Gangs are here. This is not just an urban problem,” said sheriff’s deputy Beau Beckner, who is a school resource officer at Mariner High School in Everett.

This year the school resource officers are joined by Directed Patrol deputies, who will be hunting for those people considered the most harmful gang members in the county, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.

School resource officers in Everett also are operating a gang patrol this summer, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said.

“Hopefully by interacting with these guys and girls and building a rapport with them we can help them get out or make them think about getting out,” Beckner said.

Police also plan to closely monitor the gangs thought to be connected to the slaying in downtown Sultan.

Five Sultan teens are accused of beating and stabbing Antonio Marks, 17. The suspects are believed to be members of Brown Pride Soldiers, or BPS. Investigators also believe Marks was a member of a gang based in south Snohomish County.

“With what happened in Sultan, our ears are open for any retaliation,” Beckner said. “Hopefully we can prevent any more from happening.”

The first summer, the county team primarily focused on gathering information about gang activity and identifying gang members and their associates.

Since then police have documented 52 different gangs with as many as 1,200 members in Snohomish County. Gang members were found in every city in the county.

“A lot of working with gangs has to do with gathering information. You can’t follow them around all the time. You can find out which gangs are having problems with other gangs,” Beckner said. “You can know who is in a gang, where they live and where they hang out.”

That information can prove vital when investigating crimes involving suspected gang members, according to police.

Mountlake Terrace detectives used information from the gang team during their investigation into a gang-related homicide in October. A suspected gang member is accused of choking, stabbing and drowning Britney Galindez, 17.

As information trickled in about the killing and who may have been involved, Mountlake Terrace school resource officer Heidi Froisland knew the people associated with the gang beyond just their street names. She knew where they lived and who was friends with whom.

“Basically you cut an investigation down by identifying potential suspects in a matter of hours,” said Everett police detective Kevin Fairchild, who keeps tracks of gangs and belongs to the county’s Gang Community Response Team.

The intelligence collected by the gang enforcement teams also helps police departments monitor trends and determine areas where gangs may be taking a stronger hold, Hover said. The data is shared with law enforcement around the state.

Outreach to young people also is a big part of the summer patrols, Beckner said.

The officers talk to kids about what it means to be in a gang.

Beckner often asks them if they’re willing to die or willing to kill to fit in.

“Some don’t hesitate to say ‘yes,’” Beckner said. “Others come to us and say they’ve made a mistake but they don’t know how to get out.”

The school resources officers, who received special training to work with young people, are a good choice to reach out to kids involved in gangs or thinking about joining a gang, Goetz said.

“It’s not all about putting the hammer down on kids,” he said. “We want to engage kids in a positive way and let them know there are alternatives to the gang lifestyle.”

Tip line

Anyone with information about gang-related crimes or anyone who wants help getting out of a gang is asked to call the new county tip line at 425-388-6666. More information also is available at

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463,

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