Gangs On Our Streets: Part Two

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari
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"When groups come together for the purpose of criminal activity, whether it's two, three or 10 people, they will become the target of our attention and we will pull every resource to destabilize them," said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.

Cracking down on gang members is a top priority. In fact, in February the JADE Taskforce along with federal officials indicted 17 members of the dangerous Charlottesville street gang PJC. They face federal charges for crimes including drug trafficking, shootings, homicides and other violent acts since 1995.

"There's been a lot of very successful prosecutions. Charlottesville police have done a good job of using all of our resources especially at a federal level," said Det. Blaine Cosgro.

"Several years ago it was much more of a problem. We saw much more overt activity," added Det. Brian O'Donnell.

Albemarle County Police recently formed CAGE, Cops Against Gang Emergence, to gather more intelligence.

"I think we are behind the eight ball on this and I think it's happening further back, maybe two years, than we thought it was," said Albemarle County Police Chief John Miller.

Other than the federal indictments of 17 PJC gang members, Charlottesville and County police can't point to other specific gang arrests but they do say they are working with the federal government to prosecute larger conspiracies.

"We've done a good job to combat it but there's still more work to be done," said Asst. U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy.

And those affiliated with local gangs say police are fighting an uphill battle.

"It's supply and demand. For every person that's gone there's just another person that takes his place. They might have slowed them down, but did it stop it? No. It didn't stop it," said a former gang member.

Local police are also organizing a program to educate school officials and parents about the warning signs of gang activity.

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