Police: Gangs changing the way they operate

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima police said local gangs do things differently than they used to. Investigators said gangs aren't interested in fighting over turf as much anymore. They're about making money like a business.

Gangs here in the Yakima Valley are changing the way they operate.

"They start to realize that they need to be a little more organized in order to avoid going back to prison," said David Cortez.

Yakima Police Gang Unit Sergeant David Cortez said it used to be about status and recognition for gangs. Now, it's more about making money by selling drugs or pimping. And, gang members are finding ways to run their business even when they're locked up.

"When they end up in prison, they're going to need protection," said Cortez. "And, so they seek protection from those prison gangs and that's how essentially how prison gangs can ultimately control an individual when they get out."

So what is YPD doing to stop these gangs from doing business? Cortez said the gang unit is joining forces with investigators from all over the state. The plan is to meet every quarter and share information.

"They're going to mention particular gang members that we're familiar with and so again we need to find out what's going on in the inside, what they're planning on the inside because eventually it's going to happen on the outside," said Cortez.

Police said finding out that information is vital to stop the criminal activity. Gang members who are out of jail can wind up back in prison if they're caught talking to gang members who are behind bars.

Yakima's patrol officers are also being trained to recognize street gangs to help the gang unit know the areas that need more attention.