Nobody really knows how many gangsters there are in the Garden State, but there’s a good chance gang activity is going on where you live — whether it’s in a city, the suburbs or in a rural community.

“Gang activity continues to be a problem in New Jersey,” said Detective Jason Wiswesser, a member of the State Police Gangs & Organized Crime Unit.

“Most of the gang activity is more of your street-level crimes involving the distribution of narcotics, auto theft and your shootings. There’s also been a trend in the gangs to commit white-collar crimes," he said.

He said that includes a wide range of activities including counterfeit currency and identity theft coupled with stolen credit cards.

“Gangs are realizing these types of crimes can be just as profitable with less penalties if caught,” he said.

Wiswesser said the biggest gangs in New Jersey include several familiar names, including the Bloods, the Crips, Latin Kings, Trinitarios and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“Recently we’ve seen a trend in neighborhood hybrid gangs. They’re smaller in number and they’re based more on the territory, usually individuals from a two, three-block radius,” he said. “Hybrid gang members have a high level of trust in each other because they’ve all grown up together.”

Wiswesser said some major gangs that in the past were arch enemies will work together if the deal is sweet enough.

“They still have their territories when it comes to distribution of narcotics but in the end their goal is to make money,” he said.

He said the State Police works with law enforcement agencies on the local, county state and federal level to curtail gang activity as much as possible for a simple reason.

“Gangs are violent by nature,” he said. “Obviously, they have to rule by force in order to intimidate other gangs to protect their territory, their drug trade.”

Last year the State Police Gangs & Organized Crime Unit worked with both the DEA and the ATF to stop gang activity in Newark and Paterson.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com