WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The Criminal Conspiracy Unit, a joint task force between the Wilmington Police Department and New Hanover County Sheriff's Department, is trained to identify gang members and shut down their activity. The unit has identified 400 known gang members in our community.
Sergeant Curtis Stansbury, who heads the unit, told our Ashlea Kosikowski the United Blood Nation and its affiliates, known as the 1090's or double I's, are the most prevalent and active gang in the Wilmington area.
However, members of the Crips, MS 13 and the Hells Angels also have been identified here.
For the members to be validated by police, they must have committed a crime and meet three out of twelve criteria on a gang checklist kept by the department.
The criteria include:
-gang tattoos and markings
-gang dress (subject seen wearing gang colors, jewelry and bandanas)
-frequents gang areas
-gang hand signs/symbols (the subject is seen displaying these)
-affiliates with gang (suspect seen with other validated gang members)
Officers keep files on the validated gang members.
This information helps police in a number of ways. First, it alerts officers to be extra cautious when approaching these suspects because often they are armed.
Also, once arrested, gang affiliation can be considered by the judge, in order for the prosecutor to push for a tougher sentence, especially in federal cases.
Stansbury says the unit is seeing younger gang members joining the ranks. He said he has validated members as young as 10 years old.
As to why they are joining gangs, Stansbury said it can be attractive to some impressionable youth.
"It's hip," he said. "It's the lifestyle. It is easy money, fast money. They think they have great friends but they're not. It's sad because at the end of the day, they are going to roll on each other even though they talk about loyalty."
He said they are working to prevent young people from getting involved in gangs.
"Some of our middle schools have gang problems and we have officers working in those schools trying to reduce that," he said.
They're working to reduce gang activity in other ways as well.
The department will unveil a new program soon to get those who are in gangs out of the group.
He said they will use information they have about the gang member and his alleged activities to encourage them to leave the gang. From there, the department is working on an initiative that will help those who didn't graduate from high school get a GED and help those who don't have a job get work.
"It puts them on the right path to be productive citizens," Stansbury said.
Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.
322 Shipyard Boulevard