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East Coast Gangs… Are they really different?

Are street gangs really different? Are West Coast Gangs different from Midwest Gangs? Are East Coast Gangs different from Southern Gangs? The answer is they are all the same with a few "twists of lemon." I was very fortunate in my forty year law enforcement career. I worked gangs in Chicago, Illinois; I worked gangs in Los Angeles, California, and I worked gangs in Prince George's County, Maryland. In my twenty year calling in Prince George's County, I saw, interviewed, and locked up gang members from the West Coast and the Midwest. Their purpose was recruiting local East Coast gangs into their national structure. But I found out very quickly, that local/homegrown street gangs in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, or Landover, MD were equally as dangerous as Pasadena Denver Lane (Bloods) gang members who migrated to Baltimore, MD and set up a lucrative drug trade. The East Coast has Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. There are Hells Angels, Pagans, Phantoms, Iron Horseman, and even (2) Mongols in Maryland. The East Coast has the Wheels of Soul and Thunderguards; two predominately African-American gangs. There are Outlaws in Pennsylvania and Virginia. But these East Coast OMG's are not as pronounced as their West Coast and Southwest counterparts.

The East Coast has Black street gangs. There are gangs named the Palmer Park Crew, 1st and Kennedy Crew, and the 520 Mob. Maryland has the Black Guerilla Family, but they are far different than the West Coast version because they have branched out into a street gang mentality. New York, NY is given credit for the creation of the East Coast version of the Crips and Bloods. The Los Angeles version of the Roll'in 30's wound up in Harlem, NY in 1993 with Belizian gang members from Los Angeles, CA. Omar Portee is credited with starting the United Blood Nation, and claimed to have toes with the Roll'in 20's Blood gang from Los Angeles. Baltimore, Maryland's large Bloods population is credited to Portee because he is originally from there. The East Coast has also seen Vice Lord gang members from Tennessee, not Chicago, trafficking weapons to Bloods. East Coast Bloods and Crips wear beads, which West Coast gang members do not.

The East Coast Latino gang population has increased considerably over the past ten years. In Maryland there are Zetas operatives, while in New York, NY, Colombians and Dominicans are the major drug traffickers. The Metropolitan Washington, DC area, which includes Northern Virginia and Maryland, has the largest concentration of MS-13 gang members in the United States. The East Coast has two factions of 18th Street; the Los Angeles variety who wears blue and the Central American adaptation called Mara 18, which wears red. There is more of a Los Angeles gang influence with many local Latino gangs, because of the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations and the Sureno influence.

Asian Gangs are prevalent in New York City, Philadelphia, and Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia is home to the second largest population of Vietnamese in the United States. There are the Asian Dragon Family- ADF (local), Dragon Family- DF (local), Asians Young and Dangerous- AYD (local), Asian Gangster Disciples- AGD (national), Korean Dragon Crew- KDC (local), Blood Boyz Crew- BBC (local), and Tiny Rascal Gangsters and Asian Boyz, which are very large national gangs. Mixed Asian Gangs have started to appear. In the past Vietnamese would hang out with only Vietnamese, and Korean with only Koreans. This area is so transient that we see juveniles from other cultures and races that grew together; hang out together; and join gangs together and commit crimes together.

These new gangs are mixes of Viets, Koreans and Cambodians as well as black and whites.

The East Coast is beginning to see Juggalos, but not as prevalent as in Utah or Texas.

Tony Avendorph is the President of Tony Avendorph Associates, LLC, a Law Enforcement Training and Consultant business.

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