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Law enforcement steps up attempt to stop local gang crimes

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Whether it is a drug deal or gang related crimes, neighbors in areas surrounding the Creekwood Housing Project said there always seems to be suspicious activity.

Wilmington Police said crimes like drug deals, property damage and prostitution often stem back to some sort of gang affiliation. The WPD, along with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office are teaming up to crack down.

“In New Hanover County we have all the nationally affiliated gangs that you see in movies, Bloods, Cryps, and Latin Kings,” said Jon Paul Guarino of the NHC Gang Task Force.

WPD’s Tyler O’Donnell added, “We see a heavy influx of gang activity in those areas. We try to interact with these folks, get out, make contact, and identify who are our problem players.”

One neighbor we spoke with said she often sees people up and down her street, peering in cars or lingering. She usually sees more than person at a time.

“They’re together in groups, they’re committing crimes in groups, they have a common identifier such as a band, bandana or identifier,” said O’Donnell.

Law enforcement said lingering in groups is often a sign of gang activity. As of December 2008, recruiting or willfully joining a gang is against the law in our state. Law enforcement agencies said the leaders of these gangs try to recruit younger kids at local schools, because juveniles don’t incur the same punishments as adults.

“The easiest thing for us to do is to identify your hard core leaders, and you have to remove them from the picture, because they’re the leaders, they’re the ones who really motivate these kids,” said Guarino. “And then on top of that, show them an alternative means to the gang activity, to draw them away from it.”

Detectives said some gangs are territorial. They hang out in certain areas of the city and county.

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videoViolent crime in our area is often associated with gang activity. According to law enforcement, most of the major gangs are here. Wilmington Police and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department Gang Task Force met Tuesday in an attempt to ratchet up the fight.

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