Gangs On Our Streets: Part One

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari
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"You got 'Prospect' selling their drugs. You got 'Garrett' selling their drugs, and you got 'South 1st Street' selling their drugs. It's right there," says one anonymous gang member.

It's all in plain sight, adds this gang member. She asked that her identity be kept secret, but confirmed what Charlottesville police tell us--there are four neighborhood street gangs operating in the city.

"They may not be the Bloods or the Crips but there are criminal street gangs in Charlottesville," said Detective Brian O’ Donnell.

"The gang situation is set up so you can't come make a sale on my block," says another former gang member. He said the gangs sell drugs, anything from marijuana to crack cocaine on the streets where they live.

The gang members are armed and will do what it takes to protect their territory.

"There are a lot of guns in Charlottesville. Anything from nines, forty-fives, AK's and even a few assault weapons. They have fire power," said a former gang member.

And this federal prisoner adds, "They get up in the morning and they put a gun in their pocket like they put a pack of cigarettes in their pocket."

Protecting their territory involves marking their turf. This is a roll call of PJC gang members we found on the back of this building, right next to an elementary school playground.

In neighboring Albemarle County, police have found that more notorious gangs like MS-13, Bloods and Crips are letting their presence be known.

On a recent ride along with Albemarle County police, Sgt. Pam Greenwood pointed out graffiti saying "this is definitely letting us know that MS 13 is here."

And not only are they marking their turf, they are marking themselves. Greenwood showed us pictures of tattoos and one photo where the person burned the number 13 in his arm.

If you're wondering why it's happening on our streets? This former gang member says it's all about the money. "Virginia has always been a place where you can come and make money blow up."

As we continue to investigate gangs on our streets, tomorrow we'll show you how local law enforcement is cracking down on gang activity and fighting to keep our streets safe. And look for a third web-only special report on how to keep your kids from getting involved in gangs.

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