Suspected gang member's quick trip back to jail concerns police

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PROVO -- A suspected gang member is behind bars again after his alleged involvement in a weekend gang fight in Provo.

Luis Cristobal had been in the Utah County Jail since June 22 of last year on gang-related crimes. He finished his sentence on Wednesday afternoon, and by Friday night Provo police say he was a key player in a gang fight.

Provo Towne Center Mall
Provo Towne Center Mall

When the two rival gangs met each other in the Provo Towne Center Mall Friday night, a fight broke out. Brass knuckles were used and left a serious laceration to a victim, requiring multiple stitches.

Police believe 18-year-old Juan Godinez and 18-year-old Luis Cristobal were wearing gang clothing and confronted a rival gang. "Usually there is one or two who seem to direct the other followers," said Provo police Capt. Cliff Argyle.

That's what concerns police particularly about Cristobal, who already has a history of serious gang activity in Utah County.

"They do have an impact on everyone. These incidents where they have contact with each other and a fight ensues may garner more publicity, but they are a constant concern whether they are fighting each or causing damage or theft," Argyle said.

"When anyone is convicted of a felony and is released and is quickly picked up for a new offense, it is a particular concern when someone is involved in gang activity," said Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman.

Buhman is frustrated by Cristobal's most recent arrest. His office prosecuted Cristobal last summer with a special gang enhancement for a gang-related property crime in Orem.

Cristobal was convicted of the second degree felony, but instead of going to prison however, his young age was a factor in the judge sentencing him to 260-days in the county jail. He is on probation for that crime, and now prosecutors plan to pursue a harsher penalty for the original offense.

"We'll be filing an order to show cause to let the judge review his status, now that he has another offense immediately after leaving jail," Buhman said.

Prosecutors are reviewing the evidence from Friday night's gang fight and plan to pursue charges of assault and rioting, with special gang enhancements against Cristobal they hope will keep him behind bars much longer this time.


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