DULUTH -- A report of graffiti at a Shell gas station in Duluth this week ended in the arrest of four known members of a street gang with deep roots in metro Atlanta, police said.
An employee at the Satellite Boulevard gas station called Gwinnett police Monday evening to report seeing two men "tagging" a car wash and utility box on the property. While investing the graffiti, an officer heard voices in an adjacent apartment complex and then questioned four men drinking Budwiesers there. All four wore similar colors and "flags," or bandanas, a police report states.
Gang investigators confirmed the graffiti was the mark of the "La Raza" gang, and that all four suspect were known members, police said.
One man reportedly admitted that two members of the group -- Jasper Perez, 22, and Arturo Herrera, 27 -- were "peewees," or gang recruits, and were dispatched to tag the Shell property. They were charged with criminal damage to property and participating in gang activity, both felonies.
The other men -- Jazil Vivas, 28, and Julio Paulin, 26 -- were arrested on charges of public consumption. Vivas faces additional charges for allegedly lying to police about his identity.
Vivas and Herrera are being held for federal immigration authorities. The other two are natives of Texas, according to jail records.
The gang "La Raza" -- roughly translated as "the race," or "the people" -- was one of the first Hispanic gangs to gain a foothold in the Atlanta area, dating back to the early 1990s. In 2008, Gwinnett police officials called them one of the county's larger gangs, following a drug bust involving five La Raza members in Lawrenceville.