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New York turns up the heat on Crips, Bloods

Gang members

3-day sweep nets 167 alleged gang members

August 27, 1997
Web posted at: 11:43 p.m. EDT (0343 GMT)

From Correspondent Peg Tyre

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Crips and the Bloods, gangs synonymous with bloody violence on the West Coast, have been steadily migrating eastward, but they have run into a rude welcome in New York.

In a recent three-day sweep, New York City police arrested 167 alleged members of the gangs. Most of them are reported to be Bloods, but at least one unit of Crips was collared. The alleged gang members have been charged with crimes ranging from assault and drug sales to attempted murder.

CNN's Peg Tyre reports
icon 2 min., 18 sec. VXtreme streaming video

"Operation Red Bandana was designed to break this pattern of violent crime, stop their efforts to expand and organize in the city," said Police Commissioner Howard Safir.

The Crips and the Bloods have been migrating from Los Angeles through the Midwest to the East. They have entrenched themselves in Boston as well as Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky, but police say they've never gotten a solid toehold in the Big Apple until recently.

They reportedly got their start in the city prison on Rikers Island where they battled two other gangs, the Latin Kings and Netas, for dominance.

135 slashings attributed to gang rituals

Blood graffiti

"We know who the members are and where they are and we know where they move," said Deputy Commissioner Bernard Keric of New York City Corrections. "We class them by their records in the jail when they come in."

In the last year or so, officials say, Bloods graffiti began showing up on the streets of New York City. But it wasn't the wearing of the symbolic red bandana or the graffiti that prompted the NYPD to act, it was the violence.

City police first noticed a sharp increase in what seemed like random slashings. Two young men would approach a stranger on the street or subway, pull out a box-cutter and slash their victim's face. Police now attribute 135 of these slashings to gang initiation rituals.

"We will continue to pursue these investigations and work toward the total eradication of all criminal gangs," Safir said. "We are determined to prevent New York City from becoming an outpost for this kind of criminal activity."

Police estimate that another 800 members of the Crips and Bloods are still operating in New York City, but they hope Operation Red Bandana will put a damper on their growth.


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