Gang-land: Brighton, Coney

The Brooklyn Paper
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Police are continuing to monitor an assortment of gangs that continue to flourish in the Coney Island and Brighton Beach area.

Captain William Tobin, commanding officer of the Brooklyn Borough South gang squad, addressed the situation at the recent 60th Precinct Community Council meeting.

“There are approximately 250 gang members in the area that’s in our system, but we’re introducing ourselves to more gang members every day,” said Tobin.

Tobin said that on the western end of Coney Island, which has seen a rash of murders this year, the gang is predominantly the Bloods.

Several Mexican gangs operate in Brighton Beach, along Stillwell Avenue, West 15th Street, West 17th Street and as far west as West 20th Street, he said.

When asked how the gangs make their money, Tobin said traditionally the Bloods do so through illegal drug sales, while Mexican gangs are more territorial entities that deal with extortion of fellow Hispanic immigrants and/or workers.

“They are more on street violence between themselves and rival groups,” Tobin said.

Tobin said cops attack gang problems in one of two ways: either suppression, where officers make quality-of-life type street arrests on gang members; or investigative teams, where undercover cops or informants infiltrate gangs to see what they are doing and how they make their money.

“A short-term case can be two months and a long-term case can be as long as a year-and-a-half or two years, and in the end we take down whole groups,” he said.

“It’s not illegal to be a gang member, but gang members tend to be into bad things, and if you’re a gang member and you assault someone the penal code actually calls for a harsher sentence,” he added.

Tobin also advised parents to shy away from thinking their child could never be in a gang or there’s no gang in the neighborhood.

It’s often a good idea for parents to go through their child’s school notebooks and see if their are gang symbols or tags, he said.

“There’s a significant amount of [gang] graffiti in Brighton Beach that lets me know they’re active down there,” said Tobin. “It’s lucky for us that violence haven’t followed these gangs as much.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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