largest gang in Framingham is the Kendall Street Thugs, with approximately 56 members, Ferguson said.That group has been particularly active in the drug trade since their inception in 1998, and have recently merged with the Southsides, another downtown street gang. They are known to assault those who resist joining the gang.During the presentation, Ferguson showed several photos, both taken by police and others found on Myspace, of KST members hanging out during the Boston Marathon.
"They often come out when we're dealing with the marathon because they know we're busy," Ferguson said.Other local gangs include the recently-discovered Deuces, who have 20 known members.The leader of the gang, who was not identified at the meeting, is a former member of the Asian Boyz, a Lowell gang, who came to Framingham and started his own gang, Ferguson said.National gangs include the Latin Kings (28 members), the Bloods (nine members), the Crips (one member), SUR-13 (13 members), MS-13 (four members) and a Brazilian gang made up of several smaller gangs (40 members).Several photos of local members wearing gang colors, or flashing gang hand-signs and displaying gang tattoos were displayed, as well as photos of gang graffiti.
The membership numbers are only estimates, the deputy chief said. It is possible there are other members.Gangs are not anything new in town. Motorcycle gangs have always gone through Framingham, and street gangs such as the Sax Gang and the 5-0s were popular during the 70s."Since I have been a child, there have been gangs," said Ferguson. "Here in Framingham, we've been very proactive, and even one gang member is one too many."The key, Ferguson said, is finding potential gang members before they join the gangs."We identify wannabes," he said. "If you don't address the problem, they will become going-to-bes."Ferguson said the police work with schools to try to identify at-risk youths, such as those with older siblings in gangs, and try to steer them away from the lifestyle.The police department also uses the street crimes unit, as well as crime analysis, to determine gang hot spots and try to keep gangs in check, Ferguson said."What you have to keep in mind is it's not against the law to be in a gang," he said.During questioning, one resident asked about the police hiring Brazilian officers. Police Chief Steven Carl said the department has offered jobs to two Brazilians, dependent on them completing the police academy.
Another audience member asked about how to prevent a child from joining a gang.
"Children join gangs because it's a social activity, because something is missing at home," said Carl. "The best thing to do is to talk to them."Marcos Contreras, co-chairman of MICAH, said gangs are a big concern for the Brazilian community and meetings last night with police are good for learning about gangs, as well as building trust with police."We're not just a little group," said Contreras. "It's important to look at immigrants as an organized group. Everyone here wants to live in a good Framingham."