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  1. #1
    Terminator's Avatar
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    Gangs now using MySpace and other internet sites to push gangs

    CHICAGO -- With a few clicks on his laptop, Naperville, Ill., Detective Rich Wistocki is staring at a man who appears to be smoking marijuana.

    He clicks again, and there's another picture of the 22-year-old, nearly hidden under a large pile of what looks like bags of marijuana leaves.

    "Look at this. How stupid is this?" Wistocki says as he prints out the photo and saves a "screen grab" to his computer. "These guys put this out there, thinking that nobody's watching. That it's only their friends, but they are wrong."

    Wistocki, who works in the department's Internet crimes unit, has seen hundreds of photographs like these: Guys pointing guns, spraying graffiti, flashing gang signs or handfuls of money. Law enforcement says it's all a part of a growing trend of gangs pushing thug life on the Internet.

    A search for gang sites will turn up links to anti-gang sites started by law enforcement or anti-crime organizations. Other sites claim to be academic, presenting the real story behind Chicago's gangs.

    The more you click, however, the more likely the site you enter belongs to someone purporting to be a gang member. And it's likely a police officer is looking at it, too.

    West Chicago Police Cmdr. Bruce Malkin teaches about gangs around the country and surfs the Internet searching for gang sites almost daily. He keeps a cache of Web sites, though he discourages the public from visiting them. He thinks some gangs use tracking devices, called "cookies," on their sites to track down site visitors' personal information. (Malkin and other officers use Internet addresses that bounce trackers to bogus names.)

    Malkin, like several of the detectives interviewed, said most of what he finds he uses to educate himself about gangs in his area.

    Although a lot of the chatter is cryptic, Malkin said that with close monitoring and gang know-how, police can learn a lot.

    "You'd be surprised the amount of information they'll put out on the Web," Malkin said.

    On a recent foray, Malkin clicked onto a site dedicated to the 18th Street Gang, a California group that claims to have members in several Illinois towns, including West Chicago.

    Midway down the page, the site declares that its pictures and links are copyrighted. It features a warning to law enforcement not to click onto linked pages, complete with the picture of a pig in a large red circle with a slash through it.

    The warning makes Malkin chuckle.

    "Oh, yeah, like that's going to stop me from looking," he says as he continues clicking.

    Many of the sites, like this one, have pictures of alleged gang members, some covering their faces with bandanas or sunglasses and flashing gang signs or guns. Some sites detail a gang's history and boundaries and feature pictures of graffiti with which members have tagged their turf. The sites honor dead gang members with guest books and music and vow vengeance against the killers. Many also feature chat rooms and bulletin boards -- some password protected, others not -- where postings range from favorite albums to vulgarity-laden proclamations of gang dominance or rival gang bashing, known as "netbanging."

    One site features a "shout out" to the Latin Kings of the world and reminds members that they have to keep the gang's "manifesto" and "constitution" in their minds.

    So why are the sites out there? Some police say they think the sites are created just to glorify their creators. Others say the sites could be used to advertise drug dealing or to send messages to other gang members. Some believe it's a modern-day form of recruitment, akin to spraying graffiti around a neighborhood.

    "It's advertising, basically," said Aurora, Ill., Police Cmdr. Mike Langston, who has been investigating gangs with the department for the last 20 years. He first noticed the gang sites a few years ago. "The more they can make that life exciting and enticing to somebody, the more likely they are to get people to want to be a part of it."

    Mike Scott, who asked to be identified by the pen name he used to write a book on gang life called "Lords of Lawndale," co-founded www.gaylord712.com, a Web site dedicated to the now-defunct Chicago gang, the Gaylords.

    A member during the 1980s and 1990s, Scott started the Web site to publish his perspective on a way of life that he says youths turn to, not by choice, but to protect their neighborhoods and themselves. The site also gives former gang members a place to talk about their lives and their pasts.

    "I guess it's a survivors' Web site. The guys who didn't wind up in prison or who are not dead, they're coming forward and talking now," he said. "It's not just therapy for me. It's therapy for a lot of people."

    Although his site does not promote gangs, Scott said he gets e-mail from teens asking for advice on how they can start their own gangs. He doesn't encourage them.

    "I don't want to bring any young kids into it," he said. "Every Gaylord who's around my age, we all have children now. We wouldn't bring them in, so why would you want to bring someone else in?"

    Police admit that, by itself, material gleaned from the sites is of limited value. Although many departments said they monitor the sites for information, they can't rely on them for evidence, Malkin said.

    "If I get a name from our gang officers, I'll go online and see what I can find out," said Wistocki, who works closely with Naperville's gangs unit. "But you're not going to get a case just off the Internet. This just helps us to maybe link some people to other people, get information about who they hang with, where they go."

    Langston said Internet gang chatter has helped his officers figure out potential hotspots. If an investigator sees a post about a rift between gangs, police will keep an eye out for problems on the street, he said.

    Some police officers say they have started creating fake profiles on the sites, going undercover online in an attempt to get more details about the gangs' activities.

    All of the detectives interviewed, however, declined to give detailed information about their tactics, saying they know that gang members are watching their moves too.

    Still, some investigators believe many of the sites and many posters could just be poseurs.

    Chicago police say the gang members they're after aren't posting photographs of themselves on the Web.

    "The leaders, the movers and shakers, they're certainly not sitting at home behind a computer," said Cmdr. David Sobczyk of the Chicago Police Department Deployment Center. "These are people who are in it for the money. They're beyond some sort of virtual spray-painting."

  2. #2
    Iron Man's Avatar
    Iron Man is offline Don't Tase me bro!
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    Does EVERYONE have a damn myspace?
    This message was brought to you by Tampons. We
    aren't the best thing in the world but we are right up
    there next to it.


    To them its always 'scary and aggressive' driving. To us its at times a matter of life and death." -LawnMM

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  3. #3
    jmur5074's Avatar
    jmur5074 is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThisGlock40
    Does EVERYONE have a damn myspace?

    "YES"
    No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13

    "The Wicked Flee When No Man Pursueth: But The Righteous Are Bold As A Lion".

    We lucky few, we band of brothers. For he who today sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~
    The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Police Chief, City Council, or any member of my department.

  4. #4
    Lazy Fed's Avatar
    Lazy Fed is offline Curmudgeon
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    Everyone but me
    dulce et decorum est pro patria mori


    Quote Originally Posted by Resident Smart Ass
    Life is to short not to experience Lazy Fed
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    O RLY?? YA RLY NO WAI!!!!

    The incoherent statements given in my posts DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency or any other person for that matter. They are MY PERSONAL DELUSIONAL FANTASIES and I accept sole responsibility as such as I am either drunk or stressed out of my mind.

  5. #5
    FishTail Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by fscf3801
    Everyone but me
    Me too.

  6. #6
    jmur5074's Avatar
    jmur5074 is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by LongTail
    Me too.
    Then get one!!

    www.myspace.com
    No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13

    "The Wicked Flee When No Man Pursueth: But The Righteous Are Bold As A Lion".

    We lucky few, we band of brothers. For he who today sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~
    The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Police Chief, City Council, or any member of my department.

  7. #7
    FishTail Guest
    I don't want to be cyberstalked more than I already am!

 

 

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