At almost any time in Lubbock a home or car is most likely being broken into somewhere in the city. Police tell us thieves break in every other hour and in many cases, it may be gang related.
Police tell us the average age of membership is 15-years old and in some cases kids as young as 10 have been known to join. On Tuesday, we heard from one former gang member who says it is a membership that can easily take control of your life. In addition, in many cases it can move with them from the streets into schools.
"I've been doing drugs since I was about 13 and I'm now 25," Nicholas Lopez, a former gang member and drug dealer said.
Nicholas, who was just 14-years-old at the time, was known on Lubbock streets a, Havoc, the kid who could supply the next high. "I sold drugs to kids that have rich families that are doctors. I sold dope to kids that had poor family members, white, black, Mexican it doesn't matter what race, I sold it to all of them," Nicholas said.
Nicholas adds for protection, he joined a gang. "I was part of the Southside Gang. They primarily wear blue. My brothers and family were part of it too so that's what I grew up in and called family at the time," Nicholas said.
By his junior year at Lubbock High School, Nicholas was fully involved in the gang and drug world. Therefore, instead of focusing on college entrance exams Nicholas exchanged his books for dope.
NewsChannel 11 asked, what is the street gang life like here in Lubbock? "It's bad. I mean a lot of people don't see it's going on," Nicholas said. "As a kid I dropped out of school. I was slipping by and nobody was really caring what I was doing," Nicholas added.
However, Lubbock ISD's Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Program Specialist Sara Wilson say's the district arms its schools with the tools to teach students how to make safe, positive and healthy choices. On top of that, she says each school has a counselor who works with students daily.
"They are out there every day making relationships with those kids. So if a child is red flagged or a problem pops up they can immediately intervene," Wilson said.
A motto also followed by Lubbock ISD Police.
"I understand there are some street gangs and kids who are members in your schools. Is that correct?" NewsChannel 11 asked. "That is correct, absolutely," Chief Thomas Nichols said.
Nichols says when it comes to inappropriate behavior on campus officers take action immediately. "So when it comes down to gang colors, signs and symbols in notebooks we intervene," Nichols explained.
However, Nicholas says despite these safe guards kids are still getting in trouble.
"I was hanging out at a house with 15 under age students that had all dropped out, having beer, drugs. I'm talking about pound of cocaine and weed and nobody was doing anything about it," Nicholas added.
Nicholas tells NewsChannel 11 it was the law that finally caused him to change. After spending time at a substance abuse prison, he left street gang life and now has been clean for almost a year.
NewsChannel 11 has also learned Lubbock ISD is working to get a better idea of student's delinquent actives. On Tuesday, school officials started to hand out statewide drug and alcohol surveys. In total 7200, fourth to twelfth grade students will be randomly and voluntarily sampled through Thursday.
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