Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a gang?
California Penal Code 186.22 (f) defines a "criminal street gang" to mean any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, having as one of its primary activities the commission of one or more [specified] criminal acts, having a common name or common identifying sign or symbol, and whose members individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity. For text of the entire code, including criminal acts, please click here
Additional definitions provided by County of Fresno Sheriff Department

  • GANG MEMBER - is anyone who actively participates in a criminal street gang, has knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity and willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any criminal conduct by members of the gang. California Penal Code Section 186.22
  • GANG OFFENSE - is the commission of, attempted commission of, or conspiracy to commit any public offense for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.  A Gang Offense is by definition a chargeable offense under California Penal Code Section 186.22 et al.
  • GANG EVENT - is any event or condition, although not amounting to a chargeable Gang Offense, that creates an environment of fear, intimidation, or creates a public hazard, and where a Gang Member is involved as an offender or as a victim.
  • GANG RELATED - is any Gang Event.  Synonymous with GANG EVENT.

Q: What other factors indicate gang involvement?
Location where individuals gather, clothing and gang names/nick names are a few factors to consider.

Q: How many gang members are there in Fresno County?
As of June 1, 2006, our Sheriff’s Department reported approximately 12,000 documented gang members in Fresno County. The Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC) believes that a total of 24,000 would include members of gangs that have not been identified. These numbers do not include associate or ‘wanna-be’ gang members1.

Q: What is the ethnic origin of the gangs?
Although some gangs limit participation to their own native ethnic grouping, in fact there is no major ethnic group within the county that is not represented in one of the major criminal street gangs. It should not be assumed that any ethnic group is more predisposed to membership in a criminal gang.

Q: Where are gangs found?
Gang activity is seen to some degree throughout all of Fresno County with more dense concentrations in a few specific areas.

Q: How many gangs are there in my city/unincorporated area?
NOTE: Gang collection data is limited; these numbers are in no way reflective of the entire gang population of Fresno County, nor should they be used for any statistical or comparative purposes.

Fresno County is home to 220 Gangs2


Area3

Validated Gang Members

City of Clovis                  

353

City of Coalinga        

79

City of Firebaugh     

32

City of Fowler        

44

City of Fresno        

7724

City of Huron

92

City of Kerman        

113

City of Kingsburg      

40

City of Mendota      

123

City of Orange Cove

625

City of Parlier

253

City of Reedley       

424

City of San Joaquin

64

City of Sanger         

626

City of Selma        

370

Other Unincorporated Areas

143

TOTAL

11,105

Q: What should you do if you see gang graffiti?
Graffiti is used by gang members to identify turf, communicate threats and show allegiance. As a result it is important to call the Graffiti Abatement if graffiti is spotted:

  • For Mendota, Orange Cove, San Joaquin and unincorporated areas of the county contact Fresno County Sheriff Graffiti Hotline (559) 262-4236, or email graffiti.reportshreriff@fresnosheriff.org
  • For Fresno Metropolitan Area contact Graffiti Hotline (559) 621-TAGS (8247) or click here
  • For all other cities contact your local police department

More information about graffiti including local contact numbers to report it can be found on the Blog

Q: Why do kids join gangs?
Reasons vary, but often young people who join gangs feel peer pressure, want protection, know gang members, want excitement, seek money, feel insecure, have an unhappy home life, grew up with violence, feel hopeless, or want a replacement for the family.

Q: Does Fresno County have a gang unit?
Established in 1997, the Multi-County Gang Enforcement Consortium or M.A.G.E.C. is a coordinated law enforcement effort that maximizes Fresno County gang investigative, suppression, and prosecution expertise, targeting law enforcement resources to suppress the most violent criminal gang leaders. M.A.G.E.C. is made of three high-functioning teams: 1) Rural Investigative and Tactical Team covers all of Fresno County except City of Fresno and Clovis; 2) Metro Investigative and Tactical Team – covers City of Fresno and Clovis; and 3) Prosecution Team is responsible for vertical prosecution of all State of California level criminal cases initiated by or assisted by M.A.G.E.C. teams. Agencies participating in M.A.G.E.C include:

  • California Highway Patrol
  • Clovis Police Department
  • Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations (F.B.I.)
  • Fowler Police Department
  • Fresno County District Attorney’s Office
  • Fresno County Sheriff’s Department
  • Fresno County Probation Department
  • Fresno Police Department
  • Kingsburg Police Department
  • Parlier Police Department
  • Reedley Police Department
  • Sanger Police Department
  • Selma Police Department
  • Other law enforcement agencies

December 2006, the County Board of Supervisors established the Countywide Gang and Juvenile Delinquency Initiative and authorized the hiring of a Gang Task Force Coordinator. Hired September 2007, the position’s responsibilities include providing coordination for developing inter-agency programs to provide for gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies; assessing community gang problems and community risk and protective factors; and identifying resources and bringing together best practices that focus on youth and adults that are gang involved or at-risk of gang involvement.; evaluating and monitoring progress and the effectiveness of coordinated gang mitigation programs.

Q: What if I am in a gang and want to get out?
The Fresno Mayor’s Gang Prevention Initiative has established a gang intervention program. If you are interested in more information please call the hotline at 559.621.6211. You can also download and fill out a referral form here. It can be emailed or faxed to their office and someone will contact you promptly. All MGPI gang intervention services are provided within the City of Fresno for Fresno residents.
If you are outside of the city of Fresno dial 211 – they may be able to locate additional resources for you.

Q: Where can I get more information or report gang activiy in Fresno?
For more information on gang prevention, intervention, and suppression resources in Fresno County visit The Blog or the Links/Resources web page.


1 2006-2007 Fresno County Grand Jury Final Report #1

2 As reported in November 2007 by the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium

3 Area may include immediate/adjacent unincorporated areas