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Gangs of San Diego beaches

P.B. Vermin, Zodiacs, O.B Rats, Coronado White Boys, Tuna Boys

The San Diego Police Department’s Gang Detail doesn’t keep tabs on them because they don’t generally shoot or knife each other. “We don’t deal with people like that,” says Lieutenant Dennis Gibson, head of the gang detail. Even so, white gangs share certain characteristics with their black and barrio brethren — including clearly defined territories, distinguishing clothing or marks, and a strong dislike for outsiders.

Gang name: P.B. Vurmin

Estimated number of members: 100-plus

Ages: 19 to 27

Territory: Pacific Beach, from Pacific Beach Drive in the south to Turquoise Street in the north.

Who they are: Most have lived their whole lives in Pacific Beach; many of them left home at the age of 15 or 16. A few still live with their parents, who typically work 9-to-5 jobs, both blue- and white-collar. One gang member’s mother is a librarian; another’s, a dental assistant.

What they like to do: Ride skateboards, surf, go to late-night keg parties, either at someone’s home or on the beach. Breaking into cars and stealing the stereos is another popular pastime, as is beating up non-locals “who disrespect us in some way,” says one member.

Hangouts: The Hump (the grassy mound on Crown Point, off Ski Beach); the boardwalk in front of the Surfer Motor Lodge, at the foot of Pacific Beach Drive; underneath the Ingraham Street Bridge.

Distinguishing clothing or marks: Vision brand skatewear, preferably black with skulls; Vans high-tops. Some members have the number 1602 tattooed on their stomachs or their arms. That’s for the 16th and the 2nd letters of the alphabet, P and B.

Sayings: Marijuana is “corn.” Hanging out is “kickin’.” Girls who sleep around are “skank.”


Gang name: Zodiacs

Estimated number of members: 25 to 30

Ages: 17 to 24

Territory: Mission Beach, from the jetty in the south to Pacific Beach Drive in the north.

Who they are: Most of their parents are divorced; members share run-down apartments along Mission Boulevard. Many are white-supremacist “skinheads.”

What they like to do: Fight. Sailors, minorities, and tourists are popular targets. They also like to steal. Quite often, they’ll watch people on the beach, and as soon as someone goes into the water, they’ll run down and abscond with purses, cameras, and other valuables.

Hangouts: The Belmont Park rollercoaster; the Mission Bay Sportcenter on Santa Clara Point.

Distinguishing clothing or marks: Steel-toed Army boots; leather bomber jackets, often with “SWP” (superior white power) painted on the back.

Sayings: None.


Gang name: O.B. Rats or O.B. Terrorists

Estimated number of members: 8 to 12

Ages: 15 to 21

Territory: Ocean Beach, south of West Point Loma Boulevard and north of Point Loma Avenue.

Who they are: Most come from broken homes. The younger ones live either on their own or with their grandparents. The older ones don’t have permanent homes; they stay with friends.

What they like to do: Ride skateboards or BMX bicycles; terrorize non-locals by hitting them over the head with their skateboards; steal skateboards from little kids. Several months ago, in the midst of the Persian Gulf War, a group of Rats beat up an Iraqi liquor store owner and his younger brother.

Hangouts: The sidewalk on the 5000 block of Newport Avenue; the south alley in the 5000 block of Niagara Avenue; the foot of the Ocean Beach Pier.

Distinguishing clothing or marks: Skatewear, preferably with lightning bolts. In the summer, they frequently go shirtless, wearing their T-shirts around their heads. Sayings: O.B.T. (Ocean Beach Terrorists).


Gang name: Tuna Boys

Estimated number of members: 6 to 8 regular members, 20-plus “associates.”

Ages: Regulars are 18 to 24, associates are in their mid-teens and attend Point Loma High School.

Territory: Point Loma, south of Voltaire Street.

Who they are: Of Portuguese descent, their parents are either active or retired tuna fishermen. They live in north Point Loma, in the vicinity of Voltaire Street and Mendocino Boulevard.

What they like to do: Fight. Nonlocals and skateboarders, particularly members of the O.B. Rats, are popular targets. A few weeks ago, one Tuna Boy rammed a car driven by a guy wearing a University of San Diego High School letterman’s jacket; when the high schooler got out of his car, the Tuna Boy beat him up. They also like to crash parties.

Hangouts: The parking lot outside Stump’s Market on Voltaire Street. Distinguishing clothing or marks: White T-shirts, often worn with blue baseball caps.

Sayings: Tunas rule!


Gang name: Coronado White Boys

Estimated number of members: 20.

Ages: 12 to 16

Territory: Coronado.

Who they are: White-bred school kids from middle-class families. The gang was formed last year, sort of as a joke, in response to police reports that black gangs were straying into Coronado.

What they like to do: Stand around and smoke cigarettes.

Hangouts: The small neighborhood park across the street from Coronado High School, which they call Grit Park (“grit” is slang for smoker).

Distinguishing clothing or marks: White T-shirts, white baseball caps.

Sayings: None.

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One Tuna Boy rammed a car driven by a guy wearing a University of San Diego High School letterman’s jacket; when the high schooler got out of his car, the Tuna Boy beat him up.  - Image by Nick Juran
One Tuna Boy rammed a car driven by a guy wearing a University of San Diego High School letterman’s jacket; when the high schooler got out of his car, the Tuna Boy beat him up.

The San Diego Police Department’s Gang Detail doesn’t keep tabs on them because they don’t generally shoot or knife each other. “We don’t deal with people like that,” says Lieutenant Dennis Gibson, head of the gang detail. Even so, white gangs share certain characteristics with their black and barrio brethren — including clearly defined territories, distinguishing clothing or marks, and a strong dislike for outsiders.

Gang name: P.B. Vurmin

Estimated number of members: 100-plus

Ages: 19 to 27

Territory: Pacific Beach, from Pacific Beach Drive in the south to Turquoise Street in the north.

Who they are: Most have lived their whole lives in Pacific Beach; many of them left home at the age of 15 or 16. A few still live with their parents, who typically work 9-to-5 jobs, both blue- and white-collar. One gang member’s mother is a librarian; another’s, a dental assistant.

What they like to do: Ride skateboards, surf, go to late-night keg parties, either at someone’s home or on the beach. Breaking into cars and stealing the stereos is another popular pastime, as is beating up non-locals “who disrespect us in some way,” says one member.

Hangouts: The Hump (the grassy mound on Crown Point, off Ski Beach); the boardwalk in front of the Surfer Motor Lodge, at the foot of Pacific Beach Drive; underneath the Ingraham Street Bridge.

Distinguishing clothing or marks: Vision brand skatewear, preferably black with skulls; Vans high-tops. Some members have the number 1602 tattooed on their stomachs or their arms. That’s for the 16th and the 2nd letters of the alphabet, P and B.

Sayings: Marijuana is “corn.” Hanging out is “kickin’.” Girls who sleep around are “skank.”


Gang name: Zodiacs

Estimated number of members: 25 to 30

Ages: 17 to 24

Territory: Mission Beach, from the jetty in the south to Pacific Beach Drive in the north.

Who they are: Most of their parents are divorced; members share run-down apartments along Mission Boulevard. Many are white-supremacist “skinheads.”

What they like to do: Fight. Sailors, minorities, and tourists are popular targets. They also like to steal. Quite often, they’ll watch people on the beach, and as soon as someone goes into the water, they’ll run down and abscond with purses, cameras, and other valuables.

Hangouts: The Belmont Park rollercoaster; the Mission Bay Sportcenter on Santa Clara Point.

Distinguishing clothing or marks: Steel-toed Army boots; leather bomber jackets, often with “SWP” (superior white power) painted on the back.

Sayings: None.


Gang name: O.B. Rats or O.B. Terrorists

Estimated number of members: 8 to 12

Ages: 15 to 21

Territory: Ocean Beach, south of West Point Loma Boulevard and north of Point Loma Avenue.

Who they are: Most come from broken homes. The younger ones live either on their own or with their grandparents. The older ones don’t have permanent homes; they stay with friends.

What they like to do: Ride skateboards or BMX bicycles; terrorize non-locals by hitting them over the head with their skateboards; steal skateboards from little kids. Several months ago, in the midst of the Persian Gulf War, a group of Rats beat up an Iraqi liquor store owner and his younger brother.

Hangouts: The sidewalk on the 5000 block of Newport Avenue; the south alley in the 5000 block of Niagara Avenue; the foot of the Ocean Beach Pier.

Distinguishing clothing or marks: Skatewear, preferably with lightning bolts. In the summer, they frequently go shirtless, wearing their T-shirts around their heads. Sayings: O.B.T. (Ocean Beach Terrorists).


Gang name: Tuna Boys

Estimated number of members: 6 to 8 regular members, 20-plus “associates.”

Ages: Regulars are 18 to 24, associates are in their mid-teens and attend Point Loma High School.

Territory: Point Loma, south of Voltaire Street.

Who they are: Of Portuguese descent, their parents are either active or retired tuna fishermen. They live in north Point Loma, in the vicinity of Voltaire Street and Mendocino Boulevard.

What they like to do: Fight. Nonlocals and skateboarders, particularly members of the O.B. Rats, are popular targets. A few weeks ago, one Tuna Boy rammed a car driven by a guy wearing a University of San Diego High School letterman’s jacket; when the high schooler got out of his car, the Tuna Boy beat him up. They also like to crash parties.

Hangouts: The parking lot outside Stump’s Market on Voltaire Street. Distinguishing clothing or marks: White T-shirts, often worn with blue baseball caps.

Sayings: Tunas rule!


Gang name: Coronado White Boys

Estimated number of members: 20.

Ages: 12 to 16

Territory: Coronado.

Who they are: White-bred school kids from middle-class families. The gang was formed last year, sort of as a joke, in response to police reports that black gangs were straying into Coronado.

What they like to do: Stand around and smoke cigarettes.

Hangouts: The small neighborhood park across the street from Coronado High School, which they call Grit Park (“grit” is slang for smoker).

Distinguishing clothing or marks: White T-shirts, white baseball caps.

Sayings: None.

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Aug. 29, 2019

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