In cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, gangs control the drug dealing. Because of that, some assume that drug violence is intrinsically linked to gangs. But East Coast cities have a different history. Large-scale gangs, such as the Bloods and Crips, are growing but still comparatively small. Gangs in Baltimore tend to be smaller and less organized, sometimes just a group sitting on a corner. Any group selling drugs can be called a gang, but the distinction between a gang and a group of friends is often based more on race, class, and police labeling than anything else. The disorganization of Baltimore’s crime networks may contribute to Baltimore’s violence. Conceivably, organized large gangs could reduce violence by deterring competition and would-be stickup kids.Has any of this changed?
While drug-dealing organizations exist, they tend to restrict themselves to wholesale operations without conspicuous gang names, clothes, or colors. In Baltimore, wholesalers--often SUV-driving Dominicans and Jamaicans with New York or Pennsylvania tags--will sell their product to various midlevel dealers once or twice a week. The midlevel dealers will re-up the corner dealers’ stash as needed. Street-level dealers in Baltimore control smaller areas, perhaps three or four corners in close proximity. As a uniformed patrol officer, my focus was exclusively on the low-level street dealer. Going up the drug ladder requires lengthy investigations, undercover police, snitches, and confidential informants. A patrol officer’s job is to answer 911 calls for service.
June 22, 2015
Baltmore's so-called gang problem
From Cop in the Hood: