Crips in Utah: Gang Culture Invades an Unlikely Turf

Kevin Johnson, USA Today, May 26, 2014

Just before gunfire rang out last month in a heavily guarded federal courtroom, Hema Katoa saw the defendant suddenly rise from his chair and charge the man in the witness box who was testifying against him.

It was a stunning development that played out in full view of the judge and jury on the first day of a racketeering conspiracy trial involving an accused gang member who would ultimately collapse on the courtroom floor, fatally wounded by a U.S. marshal.

A month later, the incident is shining a harsh spotlight on the unusual origins of a criminal gang that continues to thrive in a most unlikely place–Salt Lake City–and raises new questions about the extraordinary strategies law enforcement officials are employing to combat the group.

The weight of the morning’s trauma did not fully register until hours later, when Katoa learned that his nephew, part of Salt Lake City’s tightly knit Tongan community who had been swept into the ranks of a brutal affiliate of the Crip street gang, was dead.

Since Siale Angilau’s dramatic courtroom death, Katoa’s days are a mix of grief and the ongoing struggle to “protect” other Pacific Islander children–many ironically brought by families from gang-infested Southern California neighborhoods to be closer to their Mormon faith–from sliding into the ranks of the Tongan Crip Gang.

The courtroom shooting is even more difficult to reconcile with Salt Lake City, home to the Mormon church and the gateway to some of America’s most exclusive ski resorts. Yet the presence of Angilau’s so-called TCG has been an unfortunate reality for more than two decades.

Ron Stallworth, a founder of the state’s gang task force, in 1989 first identified the presence in Utah of the Tongan gang, heavily influenced by the Los Angeles-based Crips.


Attracted by the Mormon church, whose missionaries were active in the Pacific Islands for years, many Tongans first immigrated to Southern California, then moved to Utah in part to escape the gang influence.

But, Stallworth said, “A natural consequence of that move was the transfer of the gang culture.”

Ever since, authorities have been engaged in a constant struggle to contain the TCG as well as an array of 30 other gangs across Utah, according to the Justice Department’s National Gang Threat Assessment.

Though the Tongan gang is small by national standards–by some local police estimates it has more than 100 members–the enforcement effort has become even more difficult in the wake of Angilau’s death.


Of Salt Lake County’s estimated 1 million population, nearly 2% are Pacific Islander and/or native Hawaiian, according to U.S. Census data.

Meanwhile, some community activists are seizing on the incident to question law enforcement’s deadly courtroom response, which remains the subject of a separate federal inquiry. (Angilau, armed with a pointed instrument, likely a pen, was shot several times by the U.S. marshal when he lunged at the witness.)

Since the shooting, the federal government’s prosecution of local gang members under a law initially designed to saddle powerful organized crime figures with long prison sentences–the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO–also is drawing fresh scrutiny from Pacific Islander justice advocates.

“We’re not trying to justify what some of these people have done,” said Inoke Hafoka, a representative of the Utah Pacific Islander Justice Coalition. “We just feel that some of these crimes don’t fit the charges. (Federal prosecutors) are slapping these charges on a whole group of our young men who are being sent away for years.”


Within the ranks of the TCG, Angilau was known simply as “C-Down.”

And in a group known for targeting area convenience stores, C-Down was a prolific operator.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank characterized the once-talented former East High School defensive lineman as “a ringleader” in a group that specializes in violent ”takeovers” of area convenience stores, restaurants and other small businesses.


Between 2002 and 2007, federal court documents detail Angilau’s involvement in at least five local 7-Eleven store robberies, including two on consecutive nights.

In each of those incidents, store clerks were assaulted and one was shot. And in a separate case, Angilau was implicated in the assault of two federal officers.

The incidents, according to court documents, were part of the “work” members perform to “show their dedication to the enterprise.”


Simultaneous allegiances to the gang, family and their Mormon or other religious faiths, authorities said, are common among TCG members–qualities that seem to shatter the profile of the typical gang member. (Although many members are Mormon, Katoa said Angilau was Methodist.)

“I was investigating a drive-by firebombing and when we got the guy, we found the Book of Mormon in his hip pocket,” Stallworth said. “He was studying for his mission while he was out there tossing Molotov cocktails.”

In another notable case, Burbank said, authorities recovered photos showing a suspected TCG member on his Mormon mission, flashing gang signs to his fellow gang members back home.

Stallworth also describes how investigators sometimes located TCG suspects by staking out their churches.


Mormon church officials declined to comment.


Angilau’s death has struck Hafoka in a very personal way.

The activist witnessed his own younger brother, Filikisi “Junior” Hafoka, slide into the ranks of the TCG, even while tending to his family and maintaining tenuous ties to his Mormon faith.

Like Angilau, Junior was implicated in a violent 2007 convenience store robbery and sentenced by the judge who presided last month at Angilau’s trial to 12 years in federal prison.

The sentence left the family shaken and, ultimately, shattered. Just more than two years into his term, the 23-year-old inmate was stabbed to death in a prison riot.

“We’re hesitant to talk about these things,” Hafoka said, his voice cracking with emotion. “It’s tough to know how to approach all of this.”

Moana Ulu’ave also is a witness to the turmoil engulfing her community.

“My generation has been hit hard by this,” said Angilau’s former classmate, now a graduate student at Harvard University.

Three years ago, Ulu’ave said, another “good friend,” Kepa Maumau, was sentenced to more than 40 years in federal prison in a related RICO case for a series of gang-related robberies and other crimes.


Burbank said he is wary of law enforcement strategies that could disproportionately punish minorities. But the police chief said the federal charges were appropriate in the TCG cases.

“As long as we focus on the behavior, and in these cases we had people involved in takeover robberies and homicide,” he said.

But Langford, Angilau’s attorney, said the RICO charges represent a misplaced application of federal law against a group that bears no resemblance to the organized crime groups for which the statute was created to fight.

“This isn’t Goodfellas here,” the attorney said, referring to the celebrated 1990 Martin Scorsese movie about the mob. “They had no rule book, no organization. The offenses alleged were spontaneous acts of criminality.”



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  • MekongDelta69

    Back to ‘normal‘…

  • Tongans.

    Didn’t they invent tongs?

    • bilderbuster

      Mormons invented Morms.

  • JSS

    “This isn’t Goodfellas here,” the attorney said, referring to the celebrated 1990 Martin Scorsese movie about the mob. “They had no rule book, no organization. The offenses alleged were spontaneous acts of criminality.”

    Of course it isn’t the Goodfellas, if browns and blacks can’t even organize and run a lemonade stand on their own without a hefty body count then why would their criminal gangs be any different? I don’t see why anyone would be surprised by violence in Utah if diversity happens to be present there. Any geographical location that happens to have diversity on it will experience violent enrichment. I think that’s basically a law of physics by now.

  • Apparently whites are too afraid to protect the turf . . .so suffer you must ..

    • NeanderthalDNA

      Jeez…lily White Mormon land is besmeared.

      There was a time when the Mormons were ready to fight for their rights to practice their religion (and have multiple wives, wink wink). Good, straight edge, decent, family oriented, hard working, frugal, GOD fearing, corny, uber-healthy, squeaky clean…

      “Yo yo yo! We be in yo hood too now! Ain’t you happy?”

      Circle the wagons.

      • Sick of it

        Having once been involved in the LDS church, I keep telling people that modern LDS are liberal as all get out. The family values will erode as this trend continues.

        • NeanderthalDNA

          I was in a Mormon scout troop (partly to qualify me for the church basketball team – I was useful against large negroes despite my inability to jump) and I’ve always liked them.

          Sickens me the pollution of another White Zion…

        • Nancy

          I noticed in recent times, they back-pedaled on their stance regarding blacks qualifying for the priesthood or whatever. It’s a shame…they were one of the last major religions still resisting the
          pressure to “toe the racial party line”. All others have been in a race to see “which sect can seem the most diversity-loving” , while over in the black churches, they just keep on preachin’ ’bout dat eeevil YT” and speculating on chickens roosting.

          • ElComadreja

            Just like the one Hussein himself attended for over twenty years.

  • Nancy

    Fortunately from our many experiences in northern Utah, the Mormons seem to be pretty good at keeping their minorities penned into a small geographic area. They also seem to have a pretty good handle on how to deal with troublemakers: “sending whole groups of young men to prison for years” and “shooting a criminal several times who was armed [only] with a pointed object, likely a pen” both receive a hearty “two thumbs up” from me.

    • benvad

      Thank God they don’t listen to the main stream media. They’re sheltered from it.

      • Nancy

        I feel the same way. As you can imagine, my views on importing Third-Worlders as a “compassionate outreach” (in a word, that it’s insanity) doesn’t make me very popular among my believing peers.

        Separate nations and their separate boundaries were established from “the beginning of time” (there, Moderator, is that better?), presumably for a reason.

        The early missionaries to Africa and the West Indies are on record as saying that for the West to give these people the help they need would be futile, as we can’t possibly support the whole Third World by sending aid, and to try to IMPORT these savages would be suicide.

        • kikz2


          compassion should be for one’s own kind first.

          compassion for others…..leaving these ‘people’ in their native habitat, and furnishing them with all the birth control technology they want…

          • benvad

            Like the old saying, charity begins at home. You got to help family, extended family, friends, fellow citizens, countrymen and people in neighboring nations then other foreigners.

            No reason to attack others but you also don’t sacrifice yourself for others well being.

            Like all the protection going out to the Philippines right now, why should we help? When that Marxist Aquino got in she shutdown Subic Bay and interfered with American foreign policy. Now that China is claiming their territory NOW! They’re crying for help? Well I say the hell with them, and let the understand real consequences of going against us.

    • bilderbuster

      Going half way around the world and recruiting and then bringing these animals here earns them only scorn from me.
      At least when the snake handlers screw up it’s only the idiot playing with snakes who has to suffer for his stupidity.

  • coco bongo

    A sure fire way to destroy the tranquility of any all-white area: bring in the non-whites. Diversity is a disease. The only way you recover from it is to remove it.

    • bilderbuster

      Tell that to their role models the Romney’s.

  • Anglokraut

    When are we going to finally take action against churches who import non-Whites? LDS, Lutherans, Methodists, and of course Catholics–the damage that these churches have caused for White People is unforgivable; revoking their tax-exemption can only be the start of their punishment!

    • benvad

      That’s specifically what has turned me off from religious institutions. They put the well being of primitives first in order to save them from god knows what?

    • Ahnenerbe ᛟ

      Yeah the only good Christian groups is the Amish/Mennonites. They just separate themselves.

    • Sick of it

      There are conservative Methodists still. The breakdown began in 19th century England, with groups like the Primitive Methodists.

  • The Final Solution

    I’ve seen these lowlifes around Utah. Unfortunately the word is spreading about Utah’s prosperity – a 4% unemployment rate is drawing in the garbage from California, Arizona, and Nevada. Latinos are now the fastest growing population here despite the relentless reproductive efforts of white Mormons. I predict in 20 years Salt Lake will look like LA or Phoenix.

    • Good Lord, I think you’e right about that! Aside from their whacky religion, at least the Mormons are reproducing white babies. The bad news is that a growing number of Hispanics are converting to Mormonism (LDS) and they’ll be popping out babies like crazy too.

      • bilderbuster

        The Mormons have focused much attention on Latin America as have the Evangelicals and of course the biggest race mixers of all the Jehovah’s Nitwits.

      • Anglokraut

        Mestizos don’t need a religion to justify their fecundity; the poor impulse control–courtesy of their lower-than-average IQ–will explain most pregnant 15 year olds.

    • Nancy

      We haven’t noticed them so much out in Summit County (our relocation destination May 2015). Hope it stays that way.

      I notice the browns/blacks aren’t real good on skis.

  • 1G25

    “But Langford, Angilau’s attorney, said the RICO charges represent a misplaced application of federal law against a group that bears no resemblance to the organized crime groups for which the statute was created to fight.”
    A “gang” is not an organized crime group ? This is what happens when primitives are brought into our country… they see a big fat wh*re, ready to be plundered.

  • Evette Coutier

    I can’t decide whether to change my last name to Hernandez or Biakabatuka to survive the next decade in America.

    • Just use both for extra insurance. Evette Hernandez-Biakabatuka has a pretty nice ring to it, I think.

      • Ace

        E’vette De’Hernandez-Biakabatukaniquah.

  • MBlanc46

    Mormon Tongans. What will they think of next?

  • none of your business

    ” Utah Pacific Islander Justice Coalition. ” You do realize that all these non profit organizations are funded by federal, state and local goverments. 100 years ago a young person out of work founded his own small business. Nowdays
    people who can’t find jobs find a cause, spend a couple hundred bucks to create a non profit corporation, find a commission grant writer and abbbraaacaaadddaaabra from unemployed to executive director at $75,000 per year along with company car, company cell phone and other benefits.

  • none of your business

    The Mormons are very pro immigration of brown Mormons.

    • If they have any sense, they won’t be for much longer.

      • Anglokraut

        If they had any sense, they wouldn’t be Mormons.

        South Park handled the whole topic of Mormonism with a fantastic episode, and I recommend it highly.

  • JDInSanD

    “A natural consequence of that move was the transfer of the gang culture.”

    So would this same logic apply to moving black culture into white neighborhoods? Mexican and Somalian culture into the US?
    Muslim culture into Europe?

  • HJ11

    The Morman Church has become just another Church of What’s Happening Now. It started when they decided to make nice to Black and let them hold the priesthood. It sped up from there with their your missionaries now thick in Africa and in Black areas of the U.S. They’ve deviated from from their roots.

    The real Mormon Church is not in Salt Lake City and it is nto the elite Mormons like Mitt Romney who are real Mormons. The real Mormons are people like the FLDS and other fundamentalist groups that still follow the original ways of the church.

    • Anglokraut

      Considering that the FLDS is known for child rape, forced child marriage (to high-ranking men in the church, of course) and the abuse and abandonment of teen boys (who would otherwise be unwelcome competition to the old men in the church) I don’t see how any form of Mormonism is worth defending.

      • HJ11

        You’ve bought the lies of those who hate large White families. The haters have, in some cases, raised the age of marriage just to make it seem like child rape. The marriages aren’t forced–it’s part of their religious culture. The “teen” boys (often adult 18 & 19 year-olds) refused to live according to the religious precepts of their faith and their “punishment” was to be told to leave and go live elsewhere if they didn’t want to adhere to the religious precepts of the religious community.

        What the FLDS people do is have very large families and this is something that I wholeheartedly support. I also say that polygamy–when it does produce such large White families is good.

        • Puggg

          Just one problem though. One man just can’t afford four wives and twelve kids all by himself these days.

          • HJ11

            “Afford” has nothing to do with our survival. And, we must shed outdated moral and ethical ideas that are holding down our birthrate.

            I’d rather see even one awakened and pure White family with ten or more kids on welfare or in other ways taking advantage of the system, than even a hundred awakened Whites with no kids because they are afraid they can’t afford them.

        • Anglokraut

          You’re accusing me of hating large, White families? Okay, after I’m done laughing at you for completely blowing any credibility you had here, I want you to think about what you wrote, and why I might think that someone who condones the forced marriage of fourteen year old girls–because it’s part of their “religious culture”–to be someone just a tad bit deranged.
          When you defend Mormons for the rape of teen girls, and blast Muslims for the same behavior, you are a hypocrite.

          • HJ11

            You sound like a troll. I didn’t accuse you of “hating large, White families,” and I’ve never blasted Muslims for the “rape of teen girls.”

          • HJ11

            Huh? I didn’t accuse you of anything and I also didn’t blast Muslims for anything. It helps to read a comment before you answer.

  • dusa1957

    The fall of the USA into 3rd world cesspool status is well underway. Now even Salt Lake City is becoming home to the muds. There will soon be no place left for whites in the whole country.

    • newscomments70

      Salt Lake has had gang problems for several years. Also, I know of some young whites that were beaten up there by Samoans. They were at some kind of youth dance and the Samoan “teens” were jealous that the girls like the white boys and not them. There are also black gangs there. The blacks were originally from missionary families…they revert back to their urban genetics though after they get settled.

  • newscomments70

    I remember hearing about the Tongan crips in Hawaii, 20 years ago. Such vibrant diversity.

    • ElComadreja

      Tongans are scum.

  • Ahnenerbe ᛟ

    Ugh, I never knew that about the Mennonites. Cross them off

  • JP Rushton

    The RICO act, just one more thing that whites will be held accountable for but non whites wont.

    How ridiculous is this. They form a gang and kill people, it doesn’t matter how poorly it is run. It is still a criminal organization.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    Attracted by the Mormon church, whose missionaries were active in the Pacific Islands for years, many Tongans first immigrated to Southern California, then moved to Utah in part to escape the gang influence.


    Christianity and diversity go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

  • LHathaway

    “spontaneous acts of criminality”

    At least we know what they will label it after they’ve killed you.

  • Nancy

    And you DIDN’T GET IT ON VIDEO????

  • 4321realist

    Another consequence of do-gooder fools who went out of their way to convert primitive islanders.

    They’re reaping their rewards for being morally superior right now.

    It will get worse.

    • newscomments70

      It’s usually people who wanted nothing to do with it that bear the brunt of these looney programs.

  • Sick of it

    Highly unusual, considering that they’re so exclusive they tend toward certain genetic conditions.

  • newscomments70

    I have heard that while backpacking around hawaii when I was younger. There were people of all races on Hawaii who were quite nice to me, but I was warned. The young white resisdents told me aabout the abuse they had to endure in the Hawaiia school system. It was especially disgusting that they bullied girls. One of the pot heads told me that he smoked with some local “youths” recently. They were nice at first, but as they become more intoxicated, they started talking about cannibalizing him. He told me just that, “don’t party with locals”. The strangest story was from a black soldier stationed on Oahu. He told me that white hippies and similar come to the islands to befriend locals. The locals know what they are up to. They prey on them, pretend to be nice, invite them out, and severly beat and gang rape them. They do this to women and men. Not all Hawaiians/islanders do this. Some are nice, and they will warn you.

  • Monmouth78

    We need racial religions that are not open outsiders. Russia is leading the way here with a strongly nationalistic, un-PC Orthodox Church and a growing nationalist Pagan community.
    Russia has wisely cracked down on US style Evangelical Protestants and Mormons. They understand that these types can never be loyal to the nation.

  • benvad

    They are the standard, no doubt about it.

  • benvad

    Well that’s the problem, trying to teach the 3rd world to behave like 1st world people. Probably easier and more useful to teach a pig to roller skate.

    • benvad

      D’evolution do you mean the pig or the skate board?

  • Whiteplight

    Mormons brought them there to make them Mormons. I read about these guys before on Amren. A poster wrote about how he had been at a college dance and when some girls (white) were paying attention to him, these guys jumped him and beat the daylights out of him. They apparently felt that this particular clutch of females were their property. That was back in about 2010 I think, maybe earlier.

  • none of your business

    The Mormon Church is a welfare society. That is probably why the Tongans have joined, to get all the goodies the White Mormons pass out to the poorer Mormons.

  • none of your business

    Puggg HJ11 • a day ago
    “Just one problem though. One man just can’t afford four wives and twelve kids all by himself these days.:

    Those polygamous families are all on welfare. 12 kids that’s a lot of money. They also own small businesses while still on welfare and the kids work as unpaid labor from about 12 on. They start driving out the boys when they are 15 or so. Since school in those compounds stops at 6th grade, the boys have a hard time left adrift at age 15. They are basically welfare scammers.
    There is not a lot of difference from one of these Mormon polygamous patriarchs and the blacks who go around collecting money from they baby mammas on Mother’s day or welfare day.

    • Ace

      Polygamy is not part of the official or unofficial doctrine of the LDS Church.