“Gang activity is building in our school and community,” said Assistant Principal Mark Weddig. “According to our information, the gang within our community may even be affiliating with national gangs and has expanded outside the community of Black River Falls.”
Weddig is referring to a local criminal gang known as the Llama Mafia. Laugh if you will, but this gang is something local law enforcement and school officials are taking very seriously.
“This gang has greatly impacted our school’s environment in the last year and given me a new area of responsibility,” said Weddig.
The Llama Mafia has been attributed to at least three felony arrests since the beginning of the year, multiple disciplinary actions at the school including suspensions and other illegal activities including, but not limited to assault and drug trafficking.
School officials are taking gang activity so seriously that on February 25, an all-school assembly was held to inform students and staff on the basics of gangs and hopefully how to minimize their impact on the community. At the assembly three members of law enforcement involved with investigating gang activity in the Madison area spoke. According to them, “Black River Falls has a problem.”
During the assembly each speaker outlined in a different manner the way in which gangs operate, how they impact a community and how respect is a major issue in our school and community.
“Everyone wants to be respected,” said Greg Phillips from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations, “But believe me, if you join a gang you are not going to be respected.”
Due to time constraints, not all the information students and the community should know was covered in the assembly.
During the next advising period, teachers spoke to students about information specific to local gangs.
The Llama Mafia has members of both genders and of multiple races; it is not limited to females of Ho-Chunk ancestry. The gang is has access to large amount of funding and uses this money to invest in drugs, pay fines, and posting bail. The Llama Mafia has members ranging in age from eight years old (Baby Llamas) to possibly 30 years of age. The Llama Mafia is affiliated with the Crips of Chicago and Minneapolis. Most importantly, this is a problem that affects the whole community of Black River Falls.
“I want you to know that this gang problem does affect the entire community. It’s not just the Ho-Chunk Nation, it’s the Black River Falls community,” BRFHS Principal Thomas Chambers said. “Because when it is in our schools, when it is in our community, it’s affecting all the students.”
In the final moments of the assembly Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera made a request.
“This is a very serious issue, and if anyone has information please come forward and cooperate with school and law enforcement officials to help us eliminate gang activity in Black River,” said Sheriff Waldera at the assembly.
The BRFHS administration would like to make the following contact numbers available:
Sgt. Mike Johnson, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department — 284.5357
Lester Moore, Madison Police Department — 608.371.3061
George Chavez, Madison Police Department — 608.215.7823