Whenever the word "Gang" is mentioned, it is frequently followed by the question, "Do we have gangs in South Carolina?" As explained elsewhere in these web pages, street gangs are everywhere. They can be found in every state and most cities and communities, large and small. outh Carolina is no exception!!!
Before continuing to read this page, view the South Carolina gang video below
Too often, some members of the law enforcement community, the media, and community leaders will refer to local gangs as "wannabes." This is to infer that the gang has no national ties or affiliation with a national gang and therefore the problem is not to be taken seriously. It infers that the gang only has a few local youths, who have no idea what gang banging is all about and that they really do not mean to do any harm.
The term "wannabes" has been used too often and too long in South Carolina. Our state has recently been besieged with gang activity to include kids killing kids, many of which are innocent victims. Gangs love for a community to be in denial. This gives the gang the opportunity to develop its power base by recruiting more of our local youths which frequently gives the gang the means to expand its territory and its criminal activity.
Recently, a South Carolina police officer told me that his small community "thankfully did not have a gang problem - only a few wannabes." I asked him if the gang had a name and he replied that they did and he provided the name of the gang. I asked him if they used signs, symbols, tattoos, colors or graffiti and he again stated that they used all of those identifiers. Finally, I asked him if they committed any crimes to which he replied "just some car thefts and a rape." When I explained to him that what he told me about the so-called "wannabe" gang fit all of the elements of the general terms used in a gang definition, he agreed and said he had not understood how serious the gang problem could be.
South Carolina has awakened
About ten years ago I attended a three day gang identification training conference in a major South Carolina City. The Chief of Police for the city greeted the audience and told them, "We don't have gangs in our city." He then went on to say, "Whenever we encounter graffiti, we send out a team to remove it." The question was then, as it is now, if you don't have gangs, who is putting the graffiti on the walls and other places?
Fortunately, many of our state and local politicians, law enforcement officials and civic minded community leaders, realized that we have a very serious problem and after almost 10 years of introducing bills to the South Carolina Legislature, a gang bill was passed and signed into law on June 12, 2007.
SOUTH CAROLINA GANG LAW
Under the new law signed by Gov. Mark Sanford:
• The state grand jury would have the authority to investigate gang crimes.
• Gang members who use violence or threats to coerce someone to join a gang or prevent someone from leaving face maximum prison sentences of two years for a first offense and five years for subsequent offenses. If a firearm was used, the offender faces 10 more years.
• Gang members who threaten witnesses face maximum 10-year prison sentences.
• Victims of coercion or threats can sue gang members for three times the amount of actual damages, plus punitive damages.
• Authorities can use civil court forfeiture proceedings to seize property acquired by gangs.South Carolina Gang Definition
The new state law defines a criminal gang as a:
• “Formal or informal ongoing organization, association or group that consists of five or more persons who form for the purpose of committing criminal activity and who knowingly and actively participate in a pattern of criminal gang activity.”
• “A pattern of gang activity” is defined as the commission, attempted commission or conspiracy to commit four or more certain offenses — mainly violent, theft and drug offenses — within a two-year period, at least three of those offenses occurring after July 1, 2007
Notice should be given to the definition of “A pattern of gang activity.” In my opinion this definition voids the new gang law. Assuming that an individual is a gang member and he or she commits a violent crime. In all probability the person is going to be arrested, tried and convicted. Most violent crimes have sentences that run longer than two years. If the individual is not incarcerated for the first offense, he is likely to be sent to prison for the second or third offense, thus making it almost impossible for the person to fit the definition of a gang.
It will be very interesting in the years to come to see how this plays out in our society.
City of Columbia and Richland County Gang Report
The University of South Carolina and Benedict College, in February, 2008 released a new gang assessment for the City of Columbia and Richland County.
The newly-released study puts the Columbia area's gang problem in sharp focus - that there are hundreds of gang members in the city and Richland County. It further states that they are your, they are increasingly violent, and they are more prone to using guns.
The researchers put the number of active gang members at roughly 200 in the city, 500 in the county, but with the possibility that hundreds more might have the potential to join gangs.
To view the entire report CLICK HERE.
A New South Carolina Gang Survey
The link below is the most recent study (2005) of gangs throughout the State of South Carolina. Released in September, 2006, the study indicates that gang activity is spilling over into the state's rural counties, mirroring a national trend. This is according to a survey of law enforcement agencies conducted by a team of University of South Carolina researchers.
The links below is an exploratory study, conducted by Clemson University of the Gangs in South Carolina. The key findings include gang presence, gang activity, community challenges and resources and more.
U.S. Department of Justice Report
The link below is a U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center report, indicating the involvement of the several gangs and other groups, in the distribution of illicit drugs within the State of South Carolina.
Gang News In South Carolina
More and more, the street gangs in South Carolina are making news and too often the news is shocking and violent. The articles below are offered to assist the citizens of South Carolina to become more aware of the rampant growth of these gangs throughout the state.
Gangs In South Carolina
South Carolina Gang Videos
The History of South Carolina Gang wars
The gangs listed below (partial list) have been reported and are known to exist in various parts of the state. Most gangs in South Carolina have local names. However, some of the gang names are known nationally and have origins outside of the state.
Gangs in South Carolina, for the most part, are what may be called "hybrid" or "copycat" gangs. Regardless of how the gang formed, whether by local youth or by outsiders coming to the state to form a gang, it is still a gang and it is potentially as dangerous as any gang that is known nationally.
A recent example of a gang reportedly emerging in the Columbia/Midlands area, is the Gangsta Killer Bloods. This gang has emerged as a major gang, that deals in narcotics (crack cocaine) and one that is prone to violence, including murder.
Nationally known gang names appear as blue. Even though the gang name may be nationally known, the gang probably formed locally and has no ties to the original gang. Where available, some of the gangs are linked to a web site to provide you with some general information about the gang.
The following photographs indicate the probable presence of the 18th Street gang in South Carolina.
Gangster Disciples (GD)
Partners In Crime aka The Brotherhood
Security Threat Groups (Prison Gangs) (designated by the South Carolina Department of Corrections)
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This page was last updated on 09/30/2012
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