MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The youngest particular person Lake Metropolis Police Division Chief Joseph Cooper has interviewed whereas working gangs was 6 years previous.
“He knew every little thing concerning the gang,” Cooper mentioned.
As South Carolina experiences a spike in crime, police are pointing to gangs as a contributing issue. Horry County alone, authorities mentioned, has as much as 900 gang members.
Gangs are recruiting youthful members, are committing extra trafficking and are taking part in additional monetary crimes, in response to South Carolina authorities.
Violent crime went up by 25% final 12 months in South Carolina.
“Gangs, medication and felony entry to weapons proceed to play a big position in these will increase,” mentioned South Carolina Regulation Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel mentioned throughout a June information convention.
Don Wooden, the supervisory particular agent on the FBI’s workplace in Columbia, mentioned that he’s additionally seen that pattern.
“We’re seeing human trafficking, intercourse trafficking, we’re seeing ID theft and from id theft, they’re branching out and utilizing that to make use of to conduct monetary crimes,” he mentioned.
Wooden added that regulation enforcement has seen gangs get youthful and youthful.
“We’re seeing late elementary, center faculty kids in gangs,” he mentioned. “And never solely are they a part of a gang, they’re truly carrying firearms, discharging firearms, threatening folks with firearms.”
Weapons, gangs and medicines account for 75% of crime, in response to fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson. He mentioned Horry County has about 65 gangs or subsets of gangs.
Loads of that crime comes from gangs “day tripping” to Myrtle Seashore from rural areas.
“The largest factor is the hybrid gangs,” he mentioned. “They arrive up and go away.”
These hybrid gangs, he mentioned, are harder to trace as a result of they’re much less organized, may change names or disband shortly. Gang-related crime will also be laborious to prosecute as a result of witnesses are scared to talk up.
Within the Florence Police Division, useful resource officers are working instantly with college students for details about gangs, together with offering info to allow them to perceive the realities of gang life.
“They weren’t designed for that,” mentioned Captain Mike Brandt with the Florence Police Division.
Early intervention ways like that has helped to lower gang exercise in Lake Metropolis, in response to Cooper.
“We began figuring out the gang members, figuring out a few of the crimes that have been dedicated, and the victims, and we received cooperation from the neighborhood, which performs an enormous half,” he mentioned.
Cooper urges dad and mom to maintain an in depth eye on their kids — together with their buddies — and to remain alert in the event that they out of the blue have some huge cash with no clear earnings.