01/21/07 — Officers: 16 gangs counted in Wayne

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Officers: 16 gangs counted in Wayne

By Lee Williams
Published in News on January 21, 2007 2:00 AM

A bloody showdown that erupted between a Hispanic gang and another man in a local store's parking lot in December confirmed for many residents what law enforcement officials already knew.

Gangs, especially the often violent and ruthless Hispanic gangs, are emerging in counties all across the state including right here at home, Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said.

Gangs are known for robberies, drugs and weapons trafficking and some Hispanic gangs are known for human trafficking in the sex trade, said Deputy Matt Miller, Wayne County Sheriff Office's first gang intervention officer and member of the new gang task force.

"These things are not all necessarily going on in Wayne County, but in gangs in general," Miller said.

More than 16 gangs with ties to the Bloods, Crips, Folks and several Hispanic cliques have been identified in Goldsboro, Mount Olive, Seven Springs, Fremont and other parts of Wayne County, Miller said.

Among them are North End, Webtown Boys, Get Money Crew and Georgia Avenue in Goldsboro; Pleasant Acres Boys, 111 Boys, Durham Lake Boys and Cavey Crew in unincorporated Wayne County, Mount Olive Crips in Mount Olive, and Crips in Fremont. Several Hispanic gangs including Sur-13, Florencia-13, MS-13, Latin Kings, and 18th Street, call unincorporated Wayne County home, Miller said.

Hispanic gangs are largely concentrated in the southern end of the county, near the Duplin County line, officials said.

"Sixteen gangs may sound like a lot, but in putting things in perspective, it's about average anywhere that you go in eastern North Carolina, and it's far less than what some residents have seen in central North Carolina," Miller said.

Miller said Winders is determined to cut off the spread of gangs in the county and the gang task force, which will focus on collecting gang intelligence, gang suppression and providing community awareness and education to schools and civic groups, will help do just that.

"Gangs are everywhere in North Carolina," Miller said. "It's not like it's just in Wayne County, but the sheriff, as far as I know, is the only one who is proactive about starting a gang task force because he's interested in taking care of the county."

Some gangs in the community are classified as non-traditional gangs. They use the same insignia and symbols, but they might not communicate with each other -- or even like each other.

"Sometimes there is Bloods on Bloods crime," Miller said.

Gangs with the same basic affiliation, but from a different neighborhood will engage in fights to maintain control over territory.

While some might be classified as non-traditional gangs, they are all potentially dangerous, Miller said.

It's not against the law to be in a gang, but the criminal activity that some gangs participate in is where the problem lies.

"The definition of a gang is a group of three or more. The group bears the same sign, color or name and commits criminal activity," Miller said.

The promise of expensive cars, jewelry, beautiful women, nice homes and lots of cash are what lures some teens into a life of gangs and crime.

But the realities of living the thug life are far from what they will ever see on a Snoop Dog video or depicted in a movie or fictional novel.

For more than two years, Miller said he has been traveling to schools and civic groups to teach children about the dangers of gangs and parents and teachers about the warning signs.

Rebellious at home, distancing themselves from family, poor grades, dressing in a particular color trying to emulate a Blood or a Crip or whichever gang they are dealing with, long periods of absences from home are among the telltale signs your child might be involved in a gang, Miller said.

Gangs are a fairly new problem in North Carolina, Winders said. He added his efforts to drive out gangs began in 2004, and now he plans to expand on his mission through the gang task force.

"We've always been concerned about gangs," Winders said. "As early as 2004, we've been giving talks to schools and civic groups and training for staff members and school members."

Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell and Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace have also been working to eliminate gangs through collecting gang intelligence and enforcement efforts, officials said.

Winders said law enforcement is doing its part, but the business of eliminating gangs starts in the home.

Winders said parents can start by becoming a "nosy parent."

Winders urged parents to find out who their children are hanging out with, to find out about their friends' parents and to pay attention to how they dress.

"Children carry their gang attire in a tote bag," Winders said. "They may leave wearing something and change later."

Winders also urged parents to check their children's rooms to find out what they are involved in.

"It's not a private place. Imagine if parents would have searched the rooms of the children who committed the Columbine murders," Winders said. "They might have identified a problem."

Winders said children should ignore the promise of fortune and notoriety that gangs purport because they are all short-lived.

"We've seen people who have got involved in gangs and their life was totally ruined because they thought it was cool to kill that person or that gang member," Winders said. "They did it at 16 and at 33, they are thinking, (while in a prison cell) 'What have I done.'"

The reality of getting tangled in the web of gang life is it will lead to a life behind bars or worse.

"Outlaws wind up two places -- in prison or in a graveyard," Winders said.