SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It was supposed to be a cultural celebration for the Hmong community coming together to celebrate the new year, but some gang members were arrested that could have turned it violent.
The Hmong New Year Festival has been celebrating at Cal Expo since 2004, attracting people from across the globe to the capital city for the event.
The elders want to keep their rich culture alive.
“It’s really important that we came together, so that we don’t forget where we came from, and who we are as a community and as people,” said Leyah Vang.
But officers say Hmong gangs are trying to ruin the festive atmosphere by creating their own tradition of violence.
“For the last three years, we’ve pulled a weapon off guys who are ruining the time for everybody else,” said Frank Spino.
Investigators say some men were allegedly locked and loaded, hoping to get inside to take on their rivals.
But undercover officers on the ground and police watching from above may have prevented bullets from hitting innocent people.
Officers gang members are so determined, they’re even resorting to primitive weapons like a stone in a sock.
Those inside celebrating had no idea what was happening at the front gate.
“It’s very important to us as a gang unit to make sure that the people who come here to have a good time are safe,” Spino said.