D.C. 'crew' members may live in Md.: FBI agent
The Crime Scene recently sat down with FBI Agent Dave LeValley and retired FBI Agent Daniel Reilly, who works as a contractor, to talk about gangs in the District. LeValley supervises the Safe Streets task force of 14 agents, eight D.C. police officers and two U.S. Park Police officers. It specializes in handling gang-related crimes and street-level violence.
(Yesterday, we published an interview with Special Agent Robert G. Saale, FBI agent in charge of a squad of agents who investigate gangs and violent crime in Northern Virginia.)
What does Safe Streets do?
LeValley: We investigate criminal enterprise, or gangs, in the District. These gangs are typically are at the heart of a lot of the violence in the city. They are four or five guys, maybe 10 or 12, that control a neighborhood, or have a negative influence on a neighborhood in D.C., and sell drugs, extort, murder or rob in a particular area.
Have you picked up on any trends?
LeValley: They are geographically spread out. We are finding ourselves more and more connecting individuals to southern Prince George’s County, as opposed to the early 1990s, when they were more of a close-knit groups of guys right on R Street or right on 37th Place. They will still go there for illicit activity -- to sell drugs -- because that is where they control a piece of property, but often times they now live in Prince George’s County [or] Montgomery County.
Geographically, they are spreading out, but they have alliances and ties to a specific housing project or street in the city that they go to and are respected in. They commute to work.
Reilly: Maybe I have a killer, one of the most violent people, and he doesn’t want to live there because he doesn’t want to subject himself to retaliation. So he moves out.
How do they meet each other if they are so spread out?
LeValley: They met here and moved out. They still have relatives here. It’s less of a nationally organized gang, like the Bloods or the Crips. This a group of individuals who were born around the same time, started school around the same time, dropped out of school around the same time, started getting into minor crime -- car thefts [or] car-jackings -- together, went through the arrest process.
In the vernacular, they came up together. And then they make a little bit of money, through drugs or robberies, and are able to move to Prince George’s County or another county. They are not all in Prince George’s. They still have roots and a history from where they came from.
How many crews are there in the District?
LeValley: We have mapped 83. Some of those are going to be the much more entrenched. Some are on the periphery, with 10 to 15 members. Some members will be older. Some will be younger. Some will have done a lot of time in prison. Some will be coming up to establish their reputations.
Are they as violent as they used to be? Homicides are way down this year in the District, and there has been a general downward trend in the last decade or so.
Reilly: One of the things I would like to say we have accomplished, When I started doing this in 1989, there were 15 to 20 guys who everybody in law enforcement knew were responsible for 10 murders or more. Everyone knew who they were ..... On and on and on. Each of them at least 10 people. When you start talking about those people being taken off the street by Safe Streets, the numbers are going to go down. We don’t have the same problem we did then. We have been consistent in our efforts to get the worst of the worst off the street.
What are the most popular drugs for sale?
LeValley: Heroin, crack and PCP. There is a lot of marijuana, but we mostly focus on the other drugs.
Reilly: Marijuana is the "grease" for all of them. From a federal standpoint, it’s hard to prosecute a case strictly on marijuana.
Where does it come from?
LeValley: Regionally, heroin comes from Baltimore. Heroin is a little different. Some heroin comes off the Southwestern border. Some heroin comes from Asia. Some heroin comes from South America. Primarily, it comes into New York City and filters down to Philly and Baltimore, and then to D.C.
Usually, couriers go to Baltimore to pick it up. In terms of cocaine, the Colombians get it to Mexico, and the Mexicans smuggle it into the United States, like Atlanta, Chicago or Los Angeles. D.C. is primarily affected by Southern [and] Eastern routes.
We are typically a secondary market. We don’t see smuggled loads of multi-hundred kilos, like some large cities. We are primarily a consumer market here. But our focus is less concerned with drug smuggling routes and more concerned with the crew or the organization that has impact, or dominion, over a particular area in the city.
The amounts of drugs doesn’t matter a whole lot. Down at the street level, and a little bit above, is where a lot of the chaos and violence comes into play because [gangs] have to control the real estate.
-- Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Editors
January 12, 2010; 6:02 AM ET
Categories: Del Quentin Wilber , Gangs , The District
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