Nationally affiliated gangs are present in Cumberland County and U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher J. Christie said the problem is reaching epidemic proportions across the state.
"People here in Cumberland County are familiar with gang violence," Christie said Wednesday to nearly 300 Cumberland County College students and faculty.
"Gangs are the new organized crime, the new threat, and they are significantly more violent than the old Mafia."
Christie emphasized the violent nature of area gangs -- the New York-based Bloods, Philadelphia's Latin Kings and the West Coast Crips -- and said he is working hard to make the state safe for families and children.
"Gangs kill law enforcement officers, women and children every day," he said. "They kill to be promoted, they kill for respect and they kill just for the fun of it."
Capt. Raymond Massi, a retired Camden police officer and federal law enforcement coordinator, outlined some characteristics of people drawn to gangs:
They often come from households headed by mothers.
They perceive themselves as part of the underclass and have low self-esteem and self-worth.
They are often in middle school or high school and have inadequate parental supervision.
"Gangs are very structured, and people, especially kids, are attracted to structure," Massi said. "Kids get instant respect in a gang, that maybe they don't get in the home. Many of the young kids in gangs are looking for a new family."
"Gangs are recruiting 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds," Christie said. "We need to pay attention to kids during the day, because in the end, parents are the ones who will ultimately solve the problem."
Signs that someone you know might be involved with a street gang:
Attraction to one particular color worn on all clothing. (Red might signify the Bloods, blue is associated with the Crips, Latin Kings wear yellow, he said.)
Tagging, such as tattooed dog paws or gang names on the torso or arms.
Language of a particular nature that is not readily recognizable.
"Education is definitely needed to fight gangs," said 23-year-old Cumberland County College criminal justice student Ayal Kashani. "Parents need to get more involved with their kids -- some kids just have too much freedom."
Source- Courier Post