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Gang activity causing rise in local crime rate, residents told

Washington County Gang Task Force official makes presentation at Wacohu Grange

Washington County Gang Task Force official makes presentation at Wacohu Grange

October 08, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HUYETTS CROSSROADS -- Several hundred gang members are active selling drugs and committing other crimes in Washington County, an official from the Washington County Gang Task Force said Thursday during a presentation at the Wacohu Grange west of Hagerstown.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said many of the gang members in Washington County are former inmates from the correctional facilities south of Hagerstown.

"Some inmates make connections while they're here," the official said. "We have a lot of gang members in Western Maryland."

The official said gang members also come to Hagerstown from up and down the East Coast because the city is accessible by several major highways. The gangs range from the Bloods and Crips to motorcycle clubs like the Pagans, the official said.

One of the most dangerous gangs is Dead Man Inc., an all-white organization that will "make a dime anyway they can," the official said. Dead Man Inc. gained its brutal reputation by killing for hire.

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The official showed photographs of gang-related graffiti at Lincolnshire Elementary School and children flashing gang signs inside one of the restrooms at Prime Outlets south of Hagerstown.

"This is a problem in every state in the United States," the official said, adding there are about 1.5 million gang members nationwide. "It's not just in big cities."

The official said gang-like activity often crops up in small communities because children listen to rappers who glamorize gang life. As a result, some children become involved in drugs, and wear gang colors and other clothing that shows gang affiliation.

Many people join gangs to find the things they don't get at home, such as love, structure and discipline, the official said. In some cases, the only way out is death.

Ann Bowers, president of the Wacohu Grange, said the presentation was "very informative and eye opening."

"My granddaughter says Hagerstown is a safe place to live," Bowers said. "Forget that."

Bowers said the meeting was sponsored by the grange to inform the public of the gang problem in Washington County.

About 15 people attended the event.

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