More Latinos Are Slain in Prince George's

By Luz Lazo
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, November 18, 2005

Prince George's County is home to the Washington area's third-largest Hispanic population, but it has had more Latino homicide victims this year than the rest of the region combined.

Twenty-two Latinos have died in homicides in Prince George's, and 17 have died elsewhere: five in Fairfax County, five in the District, two each in Arlington and Prince William counties, and one each in Montgomery, Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

About one of every five homicides of Latinos in the region -- at least eight of the 39 -- has involved suspected gang members, according to law enforcement officials.

This year, Prince George's has matched its homicide record of 154 killings, set in 1991. The number of homicides in the District is higher, at 167. But the number of Latino victims is more than four times greater in Prince George's than in the District.

Police point out that the Hyattsville-Langley Park area, where most of the Prince George's Latino homicides have taken place, has one of the densest Latino populations in the region.

Prince George's authorities say they are particularly worried about the rise in Latino homicides -- there were 19 last year -- because 13 Latinos died in the three-month period of August through October, an average of one every week.

"The Hispanic community has suffered a lot lately," said Capt. Andrew Ellis of the Prince George's police.

This year, Latino victims make up 14 percent of the county's total, although the ethnic group represents only 10 percent of the population.

Most of the Latino victims in Prince George's were young men, age 35 or under, with an average age of 26. The two youngest were Jose Manuel Arias, 16, shot to death in a March 26 gang-related dispute, and Manales Cristobal Sanchez, also 16, beaten to death June 20 for having a tattoo with the number 18, which his attackers took to mean that he was a member of a rival gang.

Lt. Robert Nealon, commander of the homicide unit, said the rise in homicides among Latinos this year is partly a result of increasing gang activity in the county.

"We have seen an increase in gang-related incidents . . . more than last year," Nealon said. "We see more gang graffiti and gang activity in our communities. That's why we are keeping an eye on them."

Some of the five gang-related homicides in Prince George's involved the area's most well-known gang, Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, Nealon said.

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