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Classes help educate parents on drug and gang activity that infects families

March 22, 2002

gang activity

By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

HEBER — During one of the classes at Heber Union Elementary School's Parent Fair on Thursday evening, county Probation Officer Frank Pacheco stood in front a table filled with paraphernalia: multi-colored water pipes, gang clothes, needles for heroin and other tools of the drug trade.

He was showing a classroom full of Heber mothers some of the items associated with drug use or gang activity. One item in particular made a mother's face scrunch in disgust.

Pacheco picked up a Winnie the Pooh baby bottle that someone had bored a hole into to use it as a marijuana water pipe. The cavorting Winnie on the side of the bottle was tinged by marijuana resin.

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The mother and others around her frowned in disgust.

Pacheco told the mothers that drug use and gang activity could infect each of their families.

"It could be your son or your husband," he said.

In other parts of the school, parents attended English- or Spanish-language classes with titles such as "parenting skills and behavioral management," "diabetes education and awareness," "survivor math," "teen anger management" and "having a great time with reading and spelling."

The 35-minute classes for the parents started at 5:30 p.m. Classes were offered until 7:25 p.m. While the parents were in class, their kids were watching movies, playing games and eating dinner.

The parent's fair is an annual event at the school.

Back in the "prevention of drugs and gangs" class, Pacheco was showing the mothers a video. The video showed the gang culture of Boyle Heights near Los Angeles.

Pacheco said the markings or graffiti of one of the prominent gangs featured in the video have recently shown up in Calexico. One of the mothers shook her head and said, "Todos partes" ("It's everywhere.")

After the video, Pacheco took questions.

One mother wanted to know the significance of a big "8-ball" pool ball sitting on the table. Pacheco said it symbolized a term used with cocaine use or the letter "H."

"‘H' is the eighth letter of the alphabet," he said.

Someone named "Hector" or "Horacio" might have an 8-ball tattoo, he said.

Pacheco went on to describe how to spot and interpret other symbols that people might have tattooed on their body or displayed on their clothes or room.

He told the mothers the letter "M" has a number of meanings. It could stand for "muerte" (death) or "Mexican."

"‘MM' stands for Mexican Mafia," he said.

Pacheco went on to warn the mothers of the dangers of the Internet and seemingly harmless rave parties.

"Your child might tell you there is this great party with dancing up in the mountains. All night long the kids dance, dance, dance," he said and boogied a little himself.

He said the fuel that enables the kids to dance all night is the drug ecstasy.

"They can find out how to make it by using the Internet. There are a lot of good drugs on the Internet," he said.

He told the mothers that if their children say they "need" the Internet in their homes, "be careful."

A simple Internet search confirmed Pacheco's dire warning.

According to a Web site, "In the 1980s the drug MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-n-methylamphetamine) began to be known as ‘Ecstasy' (e) and it remains the drug that ecstasy users hope and expect to get when they purchase a pill or powder sold as e. For more on MDMA check out the rest of this site!"

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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