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March 6, 2006

"Netbangers" Blowing Up Their Own Spot Online

Looks like the "no snitch crowd is unwittingly snitching on themselves via the internets. I'm surprised it took the cops this long to think of it:

'Netbangers,' Beware
Street gang "netbangers" are going online to compare notes and pick fights. But the cops are right behind them. (via newsweek)

...The 15-year veteran cop used to spend most of his days on the streets, drawing a bead on gang activity by reading graffiti and chatting up members. But that changed in 2004, when his investigation into a deadly drive-by shooting stalled. Some teenagers asked if he'd checked the Internet for clues. Hermanson took their advice, and found himself transported into the little-known realm of "Netbanging." Across the nation, street gangs have taken their neighborhood feuds, colors and rituals online. Hermanson eventually found chat-room conversations that helped secure two convictions in the drive-by case. Ever since, he's spent 15 to 20 hours a week scanning Web sites for clues about local gang activity...

Like everyone else, street gangs are staking out a place on the Web. Det. Juan Colon, who trains gang investigators for the New Jersey State Police, began researching online gang activity in 2000. "But in the last three years," he says, "there's just been an explosion of this stuff." Some of the more established cliques, like L.A.'s Mid City and Clanton gangs, have professional-quality sites. Click onto Clanton's Web site and you'll find a detailed gang history, complete with photographs dating to the 1970s...

...Active gang members use the Web sites to communicate with each other and sometimes to pick online fights with rival gangs. What starts on the Internet can quickly spill onto the streets. Cops in Boston and Texas who broke up gang brawls in the past few years found that the altercations had been scheduled on gang Web sites.

The sites help the police in other ways. Some of them depict gang life down to the smallest details—the members' preferred tattoos, say, or how they tie their ban-dannas. "It's where I learned everything I know about gangs," says Det. Kevin Kuschel, who works on a gang unit for the Palm Beach County School District in Florida. Clicking through gang sites, he recently found an online photo of a 14-year-old gang member he had seen on the streets. In the picture, the boy was wielding an AK-47. When police searched his home, they found the assault rifle—and 14 other guns.

But the Web has also given rival gangs a new, less violent way to settle scores—flooding each other's sites with junk e-mail. Stalker says he spends hours every week deleting threatening or insulting messages from other gangs from his Web site. Not even a gangster is safe from spam.

Posted by jsmooth995 at March 6, 2006 1:40 AM

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