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Sunday, January 3, 2010

While people die the sheriff looks for priddy colors

Violent gangs can be as close as next door
By Kim Wilmath, Times Staff Writer In Print: Friday, January 1, 2010
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TAMPA — They range in age from 7 to 80. They surf the Web. They go to school. They pray.
Sometimes they shed blood to belong and break the law.
Gangs are everywhere in Hillsborough, as a recent triple-homicide in a quiet Brandon neighborhood underscored.
Authorities suspect gang ties in the killings of three men and the beating of a fourth. Friends and neighbors expressed surprise at the suggestion of gang involvement.
But Hillsborough sheriff's deputies say gangs have quietly infiltrated the suburbs as a way to keep a low profile and avoid police scrutiny.
Sheriff's officials have compiled a list of more than 4,000 people they say are involved in about 100 gangs, from the Bloods to the Draks to the Goyams.
Pinellas does not have the staff to track gang members as closely as Hillsborough, but about 250 people have been prosecuted as gang members in the past three years, said Norm Miller, an investigator with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office. Pasco has about 250 gang members there, said Kevin Doll, a spokesman for the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
Gang members come from all races, ages and ethnic backgrounds and have been linked to crimes ranging from grand theft auto to burglary to drug dealing, authorities say.
"This is something that's been going on longer than you and I have been living," said Hillsborough sheriff's Detective Marc Wilder, 40. "People long to belong to something. We all like to belong."
Wilder has been with the sheriff's gang unit for six years, after four years working in property crimes, which first exposed him to gangs.
Wilder said the number of active gang members has more than doubled in the past six years, to about 4,300.
That could suggest a marked rise in gangs or that detectives are getting better at identifying them. Wilder thinks it could be a combination of both.
Wilder said the largest gang concentration is in Tampa's Sulphur Springs neighborhood, but they're spreading to every part of town.
Ask Wilder about a particular gang, and he'll rattle off its colors, creed and subsets. He knows their prayers. He knows their symbols. He recognizes the difference between a kid wearing baggy jeans and a backwards cap and one in a gang get-up.
The Sheriff's Office keeps a computer database of all everyone it has identified as a gang member — anyone who meets two of 12 gang criteria, including associating with known members, wearing clothing with gang symbols or reciting certain gang prayers or creeds.
Belonging to a gang isn't illegal. But a gang member convicted of a crime can face harsher punishment. A misdemeanor graffiti charge, for example, could be bumped up to a third-degree felony, Wilder said.
The Sheriff's Office says gang members' most common crimes include grand theft auto, residential burglaries, vandalism, drug sales and drug use.
Many of the most violent crimes involve gang rivalries over turf.
Authorities say 22-year-old Tony Black, one of the three men slain in the back yard of a Brandon home just after midnight Tuesday, was a self-proclaimed member of the notorious Bloods gang.
In previous brushes with the law, Black readily admitted gang participation, Wilder said. He also had Bloods tattoos and wore black-and-red bandanas and clothes.
Deputies have not said the other three men who were with Black that night were gang members. But deputies are suspicious because they were hanging out with him.
Wilder said gang members carefully choose friends who "live the same lifestyle."
Vincent Thomas, 22, who lived at the home where the attack happened, was shot to death. So was Black. Rafael G. Guadalupe, 21, was found stabbed to death. Ralph Arroyo, 21, was beaten up, survived and was interviewed by detectives.
Deputies said they've pinpointed "key players" in the murders and were questioning several people, but no one had been arrested. They said potential suspects also have gang ties and that the murders may have been preceded by illegal drug activity.
Wilder said the Bloods is one of the fastest growing gangs in Hillsborough. Originally a break-off group of Black Panthers in Chicago, the gang migrated to Los Angeles before spreading throughout the country.
Many large gangs keep detailed Web sites to instruct potential members how to join. "Kids can sit in the middle of Bloomingdale in their nice little suburb and talk to gang members in L.A.," Wilder said. "They can find out how to start a gang and do initiations and everything else."
The Sheriff's Office and Tampa police try to fight back with a collaborative interactive Web site, Tampabaygangs.com. Former Bucs star Warrick Dunn greets visitors, and Tampa residents talk about their gang concerns and give tips about reporting and reducing gang activity.
The agencies also offer tips to neighborhood groups about spotting gangs and keeping them away. They put up billboards urging people to call Tampa Bay's anonymous gang tip line (877-426-4688) with information about members or crimes.
But it's not easy.
Wilder said gangs often migrate to uncharted territory, and that often means quiet parts of town where they can break into homes with nice things and leave without being questioned, Wilder said.
Curious kids keep joining, and violent crimes continue.
So day after day, Wilder studies. He pores over pictures of gang symbols and crime evidence. He drives the streets and looks for patterns and colors in graffiti.
He talks, and he listens.
"We do what we've got to do," he said. "You know?"
Kim Wilmath can be reached at kwilmath@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.[Last modified: Dec 31, 2009 10:22 PM]
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There are 20 commentsNewest FirstOldest FirstTop Rated

sugarme wrote:
hey xracer, same here. The guy on the next street to my cousin is laundering drug profits through real estate. Who is ALWAYS at his house?? TPD 544. Not only that my cuz found real estate deals between he and the chief of police, tampa. VIVA LA MEXICO. What we say over and over: The gangs could not exist if the police and sheriff did not sanction them. We see them shooting gang signs to the bikers. Irish Republican Army Tampa: big player. Who owns that bar they all convene at? State's Attorney Robert E. O'Neill. And they stalk folks constantly. And use women and children to do so.
Jan 3rd, 2010 11:39 AM
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sugarme wrote:
man, I'm gonna go hop in my car and drive around looking for patterns and colors. Come on... join me. What a ●●●●●●●●●.
Jan 3rd, 2010 11:36 AM
10Report Abuse

sugarme wrote:
man, I'm gonna go hop in my car and drive around looking for patterns and colors. Come on... join me. What a ●●●●●●●●●.
Jan 3rd, 2010 11:35 AM
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sugarme wrote:
jwil77, is this another gang you are suggesting? The guys I see who claim to be veterans are anything but. They are thieves disguised as veterans. Will the bikers never stop their vigilantism?? If this is sincere then why are the vietnam vets not helping as honorable citizens by reporting crimes and writing their politicians (who yes are also gangsters little wonder that they sanction gangs, eh??) and forming militias as the second amendment authorizes?? Because eventually unless we want to be the prisoners of gangs, that's where it will end up. Also, the probation officers are most times complicit as are psychologists letting these creeps out of prison.
Jan 3rd, 2010 11:31 AM
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miafla17 wrote:
The problem is Florida's already got more prisoners than any other state...and still it seems like every kid has multiple arrests
Jan 2nd, 2010 11:32 PM
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thrasher wrote:
Sounds great on paper, but what about the reality of it all. Termination of Gang Members by other Gang Members is a blessing. Why stop it? If they are not exterminated, then the Judges let them go. The individuals are arrested but not fully prosecuted. It is a revolving door of justice. More and more Hispanics are flocking to the area, and also into gangs. Their justice is murder of those who betray them. The best advice is to legally carry a weapon. Use it intelligently. These kids have nothing to lose. But if we act timid, then we are preyed upon. Orlando is full of Gangs. Recently I was there and observed the decay of our America, the one we used to pledge to, remember? Covert Mercenary Squads will eventually infiltrate our society and deal with the garbage that contaminates it. It is ashame that we can not enjoy areas of entertainment without concern of confrontation. They will only learn when they are given a free ride to Hell. The Righteous will prevail.
Jan 1st, 2010 11:43 AM
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xracer wrote:
At least the Tampa LEO's ID the gang members and do something about it. Down here in Charlotte County, I have tried complaining to the Sheriff Dept about gang/drug/prostitution and get nowhere. Next door to my office there is a man that has been twice convicted for drug dealing, once for assult, has now started offering prostitutes, and has gang signs on the side of a vehicle in the parking lot. I would also like to mention that he runs several unregistered businesses and has 9 homes. When I talked to the sheriffs office I was told the drug dealing was a zoning issue. Can you freaking believe that? I later found out he has a relative in the Charlotte County sheriff office. I seriously wonder why a twice convicted dealer can get away with this. You would think the assets that could be obtained by busting this low life would actually help the bottom line in Charlotte County. On second thought, maybe not. I would hate to see a cop actually have to enforce the law and protect the pu
Jan 1st, 2010 10:29 AM
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bellaire boy wrote:
just to let you people know that there are kids with ak47's and ar15's running the streets.i see it everyday and they dont give a damn about someones life.i try to talk some sense into them but it goes in one ear and outve the other.its like owning a pitbull.you think your cool couse you have a fighting dog.the baddest dog on the block.the same with gangs,they think their the big dog on the block until they eat some 7.62.39mm or 5.56 fmj or someones b@$ch in the chain gang.some people have to learn the hard way.there is no programs in the chain gang for these offenders to rely on when they get out.so your a drug dealer going in and even worse coming out.there is no such thing has rehabilitation in our prisons anymore. do you really think just locking someone up will solve the problem?people go to prison for driving without a license and come out with bad trades that they learn from other crimanals.where do you think people get their connects for drugs?in prison.things are gettingworse.
Jan 1st, 2010 9:17 AM
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bellaire boy wrote:
come on people be serious!you want to stop the gangs spend more time with your children.these kids have no jobs and the school system sucks.they have sex education but nothing about gang prevention in our schools.its only going to get bigger and more violent couse there is no jobs out there but there is plenty money hustling on these streets.how do i know?i was the leader of the bellaire boys street gang for 25 years.i experianced it first hand.i know what these kids want and that is the mighty dollar and the family they dont have.these gangs have been here for 50 years.we were allies to the bloods,latin kings,vicelords,peoples in control.you want to stop gangs start hiring them and keep your children closer then ever.parents need to be positive role models to their children.alot of you forgot about that.i know its hard trying to work 2 jobs to pay the bills but you have to try harder to b there 4 ur kids,grandkids.to prevent this we have to start in our homes and in our schools.BB5CK!
Jan 1st, 2010 8:49 AM
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towel head wrote:
Yea i have the over 60 gang in my neighborhood. They are armed with wheel chairs and canes
Jan 1st, 2010 8:43 AM
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fedup2 wrote:
Another example of media manipulating the public. Just give us the facts. No resources? - $377 Million budget 2009 an increase of $17 Million from 08. Obama gave stimulus money that saved police jobs - did they get any? Schools are supposed to be targeting gangs - are they? If curious kids keep joining I would say the school district is failing. What is the success rate of the department for crimes which end in incarceration of criminals? Did they successfully change the way the criminal thinks and does before they release them back into our backyards? What crimes did they prevent? No I didn't end of feeling sorry for the department, you know?
Jan 1st, 2010 7:28 AM
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jwil277 wrote:
Many people living out of state know the gang problems down in southwest Florida--seemingly better than residents. I keep saying this--our police depts do not have the resources to effectively combat the problem--so why not think outside the box to deal with a festering, progressive, critical issue? We have Vietnam vets in every county, many who are of sound mind and highly trained--maybe just what depts need as an expanded task force to assist on the streets. create a special task force, provid some psychological testing for competence, orientation for policy etc--get them on the streets (many have motorcycles which would be optimal in surveillance, monitoring, etc.) These are govt trained personnel who would be great assets in dealing with gangs. In return for services, provide free community services, free utilities, etc. etc. These gangs are growing faster then a sheriff can tie shoes. They are young free of fear, ignorant to consequences, and feel immortal --this is scarey at best
Jan 1st, 2010 5:30 AM
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urkiddingright wrote:
Id like to know why Central Florida Community College allows staff members to come to work high and when the public has asked the school President to drug test the employee(s) the school refuses. Sounds like CFCC is allowing drug usage in its schools and by employees even though it has a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY!
Jan 1st, 2010 4:56 AM
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urkiddingright wrote:
If they outlawed gangs then Politicians would have to be illegal too! They are gangs that rape, kill, and steal daily with no intervention by the cops at all, and they get the gov'ts blessings.
Jan 1st, 2010 4:25 AM
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windowsugar wrote:
Hey Kim while you were interviewing dudley here did you ask why it is that a heavily armed sheriff's dept has time to fly a helicopter over my cousin's house FIFTEEN TIMES A DAY back and forth in a straight line over the roof top but NO TIME to get a thug off the street three blocks away or solve a murder? Or did you guys just fall in love?? Did you ask him why he feels so HELPLESS? Did you ask him why they don't just arrest them one by one like they do the poor crackheads and get them to rat each other out like they do in crack court as I read in this paper? Who does he talk to? Where? Who does he listen to? Will you call him and ask him to go clean out waters avenue or will that interfere with the TPD protection of the crack houses as they walk away from thugs with warrants while citizens tell them of the warrants? Then the thugs flee and the cops won't write the reports. If the sheriff is a sheriff he'll clean this whore house up. That will not happen HE PROFITS FROM IT.
Dec 31st, 2009 11:16 PM
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windowsugar wrote:
is should be are below... Get these thugs away from our families. They were NEVER here until Pam was elected and David Gee became sheriff long about the same time we got steve hogue. Don't pretend you are not sanctioning gangs. People even tried to pretend it was because pam was stupid. NOT SO. She's smart enough to crawl in bed with scientology. This same thing happened in NC. Small town after smal town. The sheriffs pretend their hands are tied. Really? Lying MF'ers. DO WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO INSTEAD OF SITTING ON YOUR HANDS AND PLANTING SEEDS OF FEAR.
Dec 31st, 2009 11:11 PM
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windowsugar wrote:
Marc Wilder, you and the sheriff and anyone else who claims to combat gangs is full of ●●●●. DO YOUR JOB. Or get the ●●●● out of the way and give it to someone who will.
Dec 31st, 2009 11:08 PM
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windowsugar wrote:
i dunno instead of poring over pictures, brother get some extra handcuffs or some of those plastic thingies they use and crawl under the chop shop cars there on waters and go drag that fat mfer up off the ground on lamar/rampart and yknow ... DO WHAT YOU GOT TO DO.
Dec 31st, 2009 11:06 PM
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windowsugar wrote:
Then MAKE IT ILLEGAL and come get these murderous bastards up out of waters avenue and abovedarest and stop protecting them. Get em out of what was a nice neighborhood. They should be embarrassed anyway ... takes all of them to do what one idiot did all by himself for years: firecrackers, car tampering, flat tires, fire threats, intimidation .... Half of them work for the city of tampa and they're whiter than I am ... so here's the deal: that's HOW they quietly slithered in ... THEY WERE HERE and the cops sanction it. If they konw they are gang members then they know they are committing crimes .... then ARREST THEM AND PUT THEM IN JAIL. Get them away from innocent citizens.
Dec 31st, 2009 11:04 PM
22Report Abuse

JaySimon wrote:
"Belonging to a gang isn't illegal." Why not? It is not a social club, it is a criminal enterprise.
Dec 31st, 2009 9:25 PM
11Report Abuse

Blanks and Charges

Okay, tell me if this sounds mercenary. I'm leaving out names and identities for now, and even some words to protect those who frankly don't deserve protection but having never been a RAT (like some) I just don't feel good about spilling people's filthy sides of their lives onto the WWW...

However -- (you knew this was coming, right??) -- I'm willing to disclose same for a fee. In fact, I'm going to disclose some of this in a book which will definitely be for sale very soon but if you'd like to know if your name or some similar aspect that identifies your smarmy and illegal acts towards me and my family have been mentioned I'd be happy to negotiate a fee with you. For the record, save your pennies if I've known you longer than thirty years. Out of respect for you and your family I'll leave your names out. Out of respect for you and your family I have remained silent. Apparently this same respect was not inbred in you. That's a pity but you and yours are safe with me. The ones who took it upon themselves to do your bidding against an innocent family are wide open just like they've left MY family wide open. Herewith I refer to my extended family and network many of whom are currently suffering at your hands. Be on notice.

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I was born a citizen of the world and have remained such but along with that: I'm a long time Tampa resident. Mixed bag at that as I've seen life here from nearly all angles and while somewhere in there I became slightly indoctrinated, I'm not too proud of the way people have taken over this city and run it with an iron fist for all but some. This city is working hard on creating just two classes. Thems and them dont's and they are working hard to shove some families down into the gutter for reasons known only to them. Some might be as petty as jealousy, some might be politically motivated, some might just be stupid and all are wrong. I want to believe we can get better but that would entail some stuff that I have no control over. I only can control myself and my reactions to what occurs.

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