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Gangs of Long Island are growing

Gang membership skyrocketing. Towns like Hempstead, Huntington worst hit.

Last month, Suffolk County police busted up a major drug ring led by five suspects from the Bloods street gang. They sold cocaine throughout the streets of Long Island at a rate of $20,000 per week. Less than two weeks ago, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer attributed gang violence as a major factor in the county’s burgeoning homicide rates.

Why is gang activity on the rise in Long Island?

“Failing schools, little resources offered to youth in at-risk communities and the economy are reasons why you are seeing an increase in gang activity,” former gang member Sergio Argueta told Metro. “The Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, neo-Nazi skinheads and M-13 gangs all have a major presence on Long Island.”

“When I was in a gang, we didn’t sell drugs or go around robbing people,” said Argueta. “We mainly inflicted violence on rival gang members. It was back and forth. There was a lot of it — I don’t want to get into specifics but it wasn’t pretty.”

“Unfortunately, there is a gang problem and it’s getting worse,” said Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper. “In the past year, gangs have been behind most violent crimes, like robberies and stabbings. There is a lot of gang-on-gang violence, but sometimes innocent kids are caught in the middle.”

“I heard there were 10,000 gang members on Long Island, but there are a lot more than that,” he added. “A lot of members are from broken homes — and when you’re in a gang, you have an instant family.”

By the numbers

In 2000, there were an estimated 2,000 gang members in Long Island.

That number grew to 10,000 in 2010.

Homicides that Suffolk County police investigated last year, the highest in almost 20 years.

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