Salinas, like Santa Maria, rife with gang violence

March 8, 2016

Salinas PoliceSalinas and Santa Maria, two cities similar in size and demographics, are experiencing epidemics of gang violence. Both cities had record homicide totals last year. [KSBY]

In 2015, there were 13 murders in Santa Maria and 40 in Salinas. There were also 150 shootings in Salinas.

Thus far, there have been six homicides this year in both Salinas and Santa Maria. Both cities blame gang violence for the majority of the recent murders.

Last week, a multi-state sting netted 16 arrests of MS-13 gang members tied to a string of Santa Maria murders. Salinas police are still trying to solve most of the 2015 homicides in the Monterey County city.

Salinas City Manager Ray Corpuz said poverty is likely driving the gang violence. Most of Salinas’s shootings occurred in the city’s densely populated east side.

Both Salinas and Santa Maria are mid-size agricultural cities with large Hispanic populations. Santa Maria has a total population of 103,410, whereas Salinas has a total population of 156,677. Santa Maria is 70.4 percent Hispanic, and Salinas is 75 percent Hispanic.

Santa Maria may be more equipped, though, to deal with the gang violence. The Salinas Police Department lost 22 percent of its staff as a result of the 2008-2009 recession. The police department had to dismantle its gang unit and put all officers on patrol, Police Chief Kelly McMillin said.

The Santa Maria Police Department currently has 124 sworn officers. Salinas has 140 sworn officers.

Last year, Salinas voters passed a tax measure that will allow the city to hire more officers. The police department is struggling to recruit officers, though, due to a lack of local candidates fit for the job and neighboring cities that pay their police more, McMillin said.

The city of Salinas is planning on building a new police headquarters in the troubled eastside with the hope it will lower crime and lure businesses into the area.



  1. achillesheal says:

    The endless cycle of government incompetence leading to bigger government and more lost liberties.

    Government creates the problem by not enforcing the law. In this case the border law and the deportation laws. To combat the problem created by government, government then grows – in this case by hiring more police officers and inevitably raising taxes to pay for them.

    This is the modus operandi for all things government. Keep voting for free stuff. This is more of what you get.

    (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
  2. SamLouis says:

    I think the real genesis of this problem is the toppling of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. When Escobar was in power, most of the killing was going on in Central and South America. With his death came a loss of control and chaos. Drug related murders began moving north into Mexico and the US. Another unintended consequence of the “war on drugs.”

    (2) 12 Total Votes - 7 up - 5 down
  3. Francesca Bolognini says:

    From what I gather by reading the story above, they would like to have better law enforcement, but cannot afford it. That is where a living minimum wage would come in. I think that those who produce our food, under conditions which most of us are not feeling particularly suited for, deserve at least as much.

    I read comments before me that point to the migrant workers as the “gang problem”, which confuses the hell out of me. If you had ever worked in a field you would know that there is very little energy at the end of the day for running around gang banging. SO it is more likely another element, say for instance, the criminals that enter a neighborhood that cannot afford proper police protection because they make very little money producing the food that keeps you alive. If that makes you feel a bit bad, just label me a “liberal” or some other dismissive slurr and feel better about yourself. But if you knew that you could work all day in the hot sun and make squat, while being treated like a peon and blamed for all of a countries’ problems, you might be tempted to be a criminal as well.

    Try to follow me here. There was a gynormous sucking sound in our economy when the Wall Street criminals crashed their massive ponzie scheme (for which almost NO ONE went to jail), and we have paid trillions of American dollars (much of which is unaccounted for by the corporate entities receiving it) for foreign interventionist wars, still ongoing, that drain our infrastructure and our ability to protect ourselves from lawlessness at home. Not to mention the 20 billion per yr we pay to contractors for “border security” at a time when crossing is at a new low, that coincidently has not slowed the import of illegal substances one bit. Strange, huh? If someone really wants to get in, they easily can. In the mean time, our communities cannot afford proper enforcement and become magnets for criminal elements.

    What I am attempting to convey here is that we have much bigger fish to concern ourselves with in order to fix this problem. It is not some poor migrant workers who should be punished, it is the criminal element. We will not be able to afford to address our infrastructure problems until we turn on the real culprits who are sucking our culture dry at the top. Vote out anyone with corporate support, anyone who favors interventionist wars, anyone who points the finger to the poor and our homeless vets and our immigrant workers as the problem when they would distract you from their own theivery and corruption.. Please VOTE.


    (-7) 35 Total Votes - 14 up - 21 down
    • Citizen says:

      Francesca, you are completely ignorant about border crossings and border security.

      Right now border crossings are up again as unaccompanied minors from Central America and Cuban immigrants flood the Texas border. (A portion of these young male teens from Central America are tatted MS-13 gang members and they are being released here in the US.)

      This has everything to do with the concept of open borders where drug cartel criminals can come and go at will, and known criminals move into our towns and cities all over the US. If our towns can’t afford added police protection, then why are we allowing criminals to flood into our country?

      Then you might ask why Obama has released 50,000 alien criminals back into our country after their prison terms, instead of deporting them.

      (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
      • Francesca Bolognini says:

        Those towns can’t afford police protection because the people are being paid so damn little for their harde work. I totally agree that criminals should be deported after time served. Better yet, they should serve time in the jail of the country from which they came. That would certainly suck a lot worse for them and save us the money. Prison is expensive. I do hope you are not looking to blame children who are attempting to flee for their lives for the sickening crime wave we are experiencing. Gang members are a nonstarter. They need to be sent right back. But places would not be a magnet for dirt bags if the neighborhoods could afford to protect themselves. I suspect much of these drugs are coming in by boat. Pangas are found on th ecoast constantly. Also paid off border guards are a classic. And let us not forget the “war on drugs” that has done NOTHING but boost the demand and enrich criminals and tempt more desperate people to become criminals. And our seriously flawed approach to treatment of addiction. Without customers these guys would just stay home.

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  4. Rambunctious says:

    California like many states are not enforcing immigration laws and at the same time the state is releasing prisoners early to make room in the prisons. What did anyone expect would happen? Vote the do nothings out of office before they completely destroy the state of California.

    (24) 34 Total Votes - 29 up - 5 down
    • kettle says:

      You are correct, this is a part of the result of “Smaller Government” push of the clueless.

      (-20) 36 Total Votes - 8 up - 28 down
      • shelworth says:

        And just when has government ever gotten smaller? This is a direct result of us NOT enforcing our existing laws, and the Democratic Legislature pushing the progressive agenda down our throats.

        (23) 35 Total Votes - 29 up - 6 down
        • kettle says:

          Lol The Gop is the party of do nothing and obstructionism making “blame the Democrats” a party plank to hide the fact that they take your $ and do nothing.

          Credit where credit is due, social programs that help education and reduce crime have been cut and cut and cut, by your request.

          Now you can live the dream that the GOP has wrought using our $.

          (-12) 36 Total Votes - 12 up - 24 down
          • shelworth says:

            Nothing has been “cut” at all for years, let alone “cut hard”, money has been reallocated to cover the pensions promised by past Democrats. As for the GOP, not a fan, but they seem to go along with whatever Obama wants, so according to you everything should be peachy-dandy.

            (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
          • r0y says:

            Do you live on Mars? Since when, in California, has there been ANY opposition by the “GOP” to the democrat legislators? Seriously? That’s where you went? Wow. Just. Wow.

            (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  5. easymoney says:

    Interesting that during the same 25 years of lack of immigration enforcement, we have seen the uncontrolled growth of gangs from south of the border especially MS13…
    Is anyone really surprised?
    This is an issue that needs immediate attention and constant enforcement. The growth of these gangs and the negative influence.they inflict is not just a Paso or Santa Maria problem. MS13 is now in all 50 states and their constant use of violence and murder along with the drugs and human smuggling they force on all areas they infect is almost out control.
    The communities that surround SLO county are all having to address this and the first concrete step is always to admit you have a problem. Then you have to take you head out of the sand and actually do something.
    Now, that being said, I do think employers and the government HAVE to make changes in order to enhance (not remove) enforcement of our long standing immigration laws and to pass the E-verify bill.

    (25) 31 Total Votes - 28 up - 3 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      Will never happen with the Democrats in control. They only see votes and control of the serfs and that is all they care about. Will I did forget to mention our money for taxes!

      (18) 28 Total Votes - 23 up - 5 down
      • kettle says:

        You are a broken record, blame blame blame. No answers just blame other people.

        Take responsibility or accept your fate as a responsible party.

        (-8) 24 Total Votes - 8 up - 16 down
        • shelworth says:

          How long have the Democrats been in charge of California? Everything should be perfect soon huh?

          (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
    • kettle says:

      What a poorly written bitching blog “This is the fault of the LIBERAL/LEFT WING in California. ”

      More broad brush pointless complaining about what she does not understand.

      Blaming the “left” is a pointless exercise in complaining that never helps.

      (-14) 30 Total Votes - 8 up - 22 down
      • shelworth says:

        You need only look at every city and state controlled by Democrats to see who is at fault here. Would you really want to live in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington DC, etc, etc, etc…

        (16) 22 Total Votes - 19 up - 3 down
        • kettle says:

          That’s right blame other people because you were just standing there and it just happened.

          As for the super cities, anytime you put 10 million people in a 10 mile x 10 mile area and cut the social programs, cut welfare, prevent Social security col adjustments and give the cops free reign? Yes people kill each other over scraps. (yes I have lived in 2 of those)

          Family values indeed, Ronny Raygun and longest vacation ever G Bush.

          (-6) 22 Total Votes - 8 up - 14 down
          • shelworth says:

            I’ve voted against this crap for years, but people who want their “Free Stuff” vote the other way every time. As for the “Super Cities” just who put them there? They mostly were born there, nobody “Put” them there. And Welfare? Welfare is half the problem, for a temporary fix for an emergency it works great, for a lifestyle for generations it ruins people. You keep making my point for me!

            (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
  6. Jorge Estrada says:

    So what are we trying to say, Latino labor comes with unexpected consequences? Maybe the farmers should be assessed a lawlessness tax per planted acre.

    (12) 26 Total Votes - 19 up - 7 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      Jorge, I think we are saying we have a “legal” process for immigrants to come to this Country, permanently, seasonal, visas, etc. This is what you get when people no longer want to play by the rules and others don’t care. It is really about two things, 1) votes and 2) money, the two evils in the U.S.

      (22) 32 Total Votes - 27 up - 5 down
  7. Rich in MB says:

    I’m a little confused on the take away from this story.
    Is it that Cities with large Hispanic populations are unsafe?
    Is it that Santa Marina needs a tax increase to fund more officers?

    It’s like the story wants to tip toe around the elephant in the room, which is Illegal Immigrants and their roll in the rise of crime. Had CCN gone too PC that it can’t use the work Illegal Immigrants?

    Confused in Morro Bay.

    (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down

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