Not just murder and mayhem – NJ gangs are branching out
⚫ NJ gangs are expanding their criminal activities
⚫ Since the pandemic started, they’ve been dabbling in white-collar crimes
⚫ They’re still killing, robbing and assaulting people
Gang activity in New Jersey continues to pose a deadly threat to residents, but gang members are also getting involved in what has typically been considered white-collar crimes as well.
That from Mike Ratta, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark field office.
Ratta said several major gangs, including the Bloods, the Crypts and MS 13, as well as neighborhood gangs, continue to operate in the Garden State.
“The crimes they are committing include weapons trafficking, murder, assault, robbery, your carjackings, your shootings, and they are branching out into financial fraud as well,” Ratta.
Looking for new opportunities
Ratta said when the COVID pandemic began, gangs started stealing money through a number of ways.
“The paycheck protection program, the unemployment insurance and economic injury disaster loan programs, personal economic stimulus checks – they will go into any crime to make a dollar,” Ratta said.
Despite gangs getting more involved in white-collar crimes, they continue to engage in violent activity.
“Gangs are still using violence, shootings and murder to further their interests. Things most people think of when they think of a gang," Ratta said.
Where gangs are operating
Ratta noted gangs are operating in New Jersey cities, the suburbs and rural areas.
“But in terms of concentrations, we see more in the populated areas, places like Newark, Atlantic City, Trenton, even New Brunswick, Asbury Park down in Monmouth County,” Ratta said.
Ratta said over the past few months, the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force has been expanded.
“That increases communication, collaboration and our ability to identify trends in the community and react to those in a much more efficient manner and a much more effective manner.”
Ratta added the FBI is working closer than ever with the New Jersey State Police and local law enforcement, a collaboration he said is making a difference in cracking down on gang activity.
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David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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