ATHENS -- A fight at an Athens nightclub last week between rival gang members set in motion a series of retaliations and arrests that could lead to the deportation of several illegal immigrants, Athens-Clarke police said.
Two local Hispanic street gangs clashed in the parking lot of The Suburban on Danielsville Road early last Saturday morning, when the men on the losing end apparently left to regroup and retaliate, police said.
They used baseball bats to smash the windows of a car on Sunset Drive because they were angry with the owner for having left the Sur 13 gang, police said.
The men later showed up with a rifle at a man's home on North Bluff Road, demanding that he show them where members of the 18th Street gang lived, according to police.
The man used to hang out with the gang, police said, and one of his relatives still belonged.
The gangsters took off when they saw the man's wife with a phone and thought she was dialing 911.
The woman never called police, but officers already were on the lookout for the men's car after the baseball bat vandalism, and they stopped the car near the intersection of Danielsville Road and Leann Drive.
Officers searched the car and found a .22-caliber rifle and magazine, a machete, an aluminum baseball bat and a broom handle, police said.
They released the 15-year-old driver to his mother and arrested four adults on concealed weapons charges.
Local officials notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who placed a hold on three of the men, who are in the country illegally, for deportation hearings, police said.
The couple told police Monday that they were afraid to call authorities and heard rumors that the gang members planned to shoot up their house when they got out of jail, police said.
The only man who is not an illegal immigrant - 31-year-old Luis Aguilar - is a convicted felon who allegedly once threatened to kill an Athens-Clarke police officer. He was charged with possession of a weapon by a conviction felon based on a felony conviction in Iowa, police said.
Aguilar was arrested in Athens in May 2007 after he beat a man with a baseball bat and stole $200, then spat in the face of one officer and told another he would kill him, according to a Clarke County grand jury indictment.
After the victim was deported to Mexico, prosecutors declined to press an armed robbery charge because they lost an important witness and didn't think they could get a conviction, according to court records.
Prosecutors reduced an aggravated assault charge to battery, and Aguilar pleaded guilty to that charge and other misdemeanors. A judge ordered him in January to serve two years in jail, but gave him credit for the time he had already served behind bars.