Gang members are suspected in several crimes from Prince William County to Baltimore. In Washington's Trinidad neighborhood, where police are battling an increase in violence this year, young people are wearing the Bloods' colors and flashing their hand signs. However, police say they haven't tied the gang to any homicides in the neighborhood. Bloods and the Crips, well-known gangs on the West Coast, are a growing concern for law enforcement in the Washington area.
"We've started seeing more and more signs of the Crips and Bloods -- more Bloods than Crips," D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said. "We are seeing a growing presence in the graffiti, the clothing, the symbols." In Montgomery County, authorities have linked a shooting and three stabbings to a Bloods-Crips feud.
In February, a federal grand jury in Baltimore indicted 28 members of a gang called the Tree Top Piru Bloods on charges including murder, robbery, drug trafficking and witness intimidation. Bob Bermingham, gang prevention coordinator in Fairfax County, said in some cases, local crews are adopting the names of the well-known gangs. "They run around saying we are the Ravenswood Boys, and everybody says, 'So what?' " he said. "But if they say they're the Ravenswood Bloods, suddenly they have some credibility." But Capt. Bill Lynn, of the Prince George's County police, said "wannabes" can be just as dangerous because they have something to prove. The ranks of the two gangs are growing in part because men join the gangs for protection when they're in jail. When they get out, they bring other people into the groups.
Authorities said 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. Virginia officials have identified about 2,000 Bloods and 700 Crips in state prisons.
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