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Friday, August 29, 2008

West Coast Gangs Are Making Inroads

(Posted 29 Aug 2008)

West Coast Gangs Are Making Inroads; Bloods, Crips Tied To Area Crimes.
Post, 29 Aug 2008 (Thomas-Lester).
The emergence of Bloods and Crips, gangs that originated on the West Coast and are establishing themselves in the Washington area, has contributed to several homicides in Prince George's County this year and has become a growing concern in the District, law enforcement officials said.

Bloods, and to a lesser degree their rival Crips, are suspects in several crimes in a wide swath from Prince William County to Baltimore. "We are seeing their numbers growing right now," said Capt. Bill Lynn, commander of the Prince George's police gang unit. "The Crips and Bloods are the focus for law enforcement now, not only here but around the region, because of the violence they perpetrate."
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Lynn, of the Prince George's police, said that even if local gang affiliates might be less organized than established sets elsewhere, they are no less dangerous. "A lot of people like to say someone is a 'wannabe,' " he said. "Someone who wants to be is more dangerous than someone who is because they are trying to prove something."

The ranks of the two gangs appear to be growing locally, in part, because of men returning from jail or prison who joined the gangs for protection behind bars. . . .
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Authorities said that about 25 percent of the 1,300 inmates in the Prince George's jail are affiliated with gangs and that more than 60 percent of the gang members are Bloods. Last year, Maryland corrections officials started a task force to address gang activity in prison. Virginia officials have identified about 2,000 Bloods and 700 Crips in state prisons.

Other gang members are moving from New York and Los Angeles to avoid more aggressive law enforcement, said Tony Avendorph, a Prince George's detective who trains gang investigators across the country. Once here, they recruit members, often incorporating existing crews, and then use new members "as the fall guys" to escape arrest, Avendorph said.

Much of the county's intelligence comes from members who have been arrested. Police estimate there are at least 280 gangs in Prince George's, including neighborhood crews, with 3,500 or more members. Officials said Bloods outnumber Crips, but they did not provide specific numbers. "If you approach them right, they will offer right out that they are a member of the Crips or Bloods because they are proud of it," Lynn said.
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In response to the growing gang problem, the Prince George's police gang unit has been expanded from five to 15 members. County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) has recruited a former federal gang prosecutor who obtained an indictment in a case involving Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, under a new Maryland law that increases sentences for gang-related crimes. Gansler has offered his team of designated gang prosecutors to assist Ivey's office.
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