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DIGGING DEEPER: Hybrid gangs recruiting young teenagers by using social media

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Tucson (KVOA) - Hybrid gangs. No, it's not a car, it's a group of young teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds who have come together and are considered very violent.

The News 4 Tucson Digging Deeper Team looked into this gang that is using social media to recruit and to conduct business.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety State Gang Task Force, these hybrid gangs aren't the traditional neighborhood gangs wearing gang colors of red or blue. They are going into the neighborhoods and recruiting the younger generation.

DPS Captain Todd Smith told News 4 Tucson, "We've been tasked by the state legislature to make the community safe from the gang violence."

That's what Detective Troy Pancost and others assigned to the task force do every day. Hybrid gangs concern him. "They've just evolved in this day and age with social media. Their main goal is like the old gangs is money."

However, they get that money by committing crimes. Detective Pancost said, "Recently we've noticed firearms, the selling of firearms, the use of firearms."

He added that's how they make money. "These are people that the only way they make money is violence and stealing and selling narcotics. So anytime you are dealing with these kinds of people as a law enforcement officer you want to be extra careful."

It's not just law enforcement that needs to be vigilant, but the public as well because of their violent nature.

"They've shown that they don't have regard for the law. If they don't have regard for the law they're not going to listen to anything we're saying."

He said these hybrid gangs turn to social media. "They're using social media because like I said they don't have a specific territory so if they can reach out and recruit that's an easier way of doing it especially now with schools being on lockdown right now."

That's why Det. Pancost is urging parents to check their teenager's social media. "Check it every once in awhile, maybe even get the password so you can see what kind of messages they are sending. What kind of stuff they are posting because a lot of that will be right there on social media. They are not hiding it."

The Gang State Task Force partners with local agencies around the state not just to enforce the law but also to bring awareness. "We're here to educate, and reach out to the community if they need anything or if they have any questions just reach out to us and we will help with that."

Detective Pancost also urged parents to take time to talk with their children and again, if they need help the Arizona State Gang Task Force will be there.

1 888-NO-GANGS
1 888 664-2647

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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