At this session in Anne Arundel, Detective Mark Finley told of local teens getting beaten up by members of national gangs such as the Crips whom they met on MySpace. He described gangs in neighboring Prince George’s County using Twitter to find out where school-skippers were hanging out and then showing up to recruit them. He explained how smaller, local gangs, or “crews,” plot their crimes online, where law enforcement is watching them.
At a recent after-school session in Anne Arundel County, Detective Mark Finley showed a group of teenagers and their parents how violent gangs recruit in their community, playing a rap video by members of the notorious Bloods gang from California.
When he asked the teenagers how many had seen the video on YouTube and noticed Bloods’ graffiti scrawled at their schools, almost all of them raised their hands.
No surprise there.
Finley and his fellow officers started noticing the gangs on sites like YouTube, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook about five years ago, he said. Social media have given them the ability to communicate swiftly and boldly and recruit members across geographic boundaries, making turf all but meaningless.
The officers are now so used to watching gangs do business online that they have created their own fake social media profiles to go undercover.
To make this point, Finley pointed to another Anne Arundel cop, white and middle-aged. “See this guy right here?” the detective asked. “On Twitter, he’s an 18-year-old African American Bloods female.”