Virginia Wheeler and Nadia Brooks, Sun (London), April 15, 2010
BRITAIN is becoming a battleground for the notorious Bloods and Crips gangs that once brought fear to Los Angeles.
Around a QUARTER of mobs in London now align themselves with the two crime networks.
The massive UK market for cocaine has led to second generation members launching a new “front” here and in Spain.
A recent police census into gangs in the capital found 17 of 70 recognised crews are now Bloods or Crips.
Officers have reported a “more organised aspect” to street gang activities.
A Sun investigation found that hundreds of members are donning the gangs’ red or blue colours and bragging of their allegiances on social networking sites.
Insiders said small street crews have been grouping together–copying the LA supergangs’ culture and tactics and communicating with overseas counterparts.
Youth worker Twilight Bey, 40, warned yesterday: “Britain’s gang problem in 2010 is where LA was in the bad days of the 1980s.
“Youths here have adopted a culture they don’t fully understand and the consequences will be a generation of shattered lives.”
Ex-LA gangster Twilight–who now works to curb gang violence in West London–said kids as young as SEVEN are carrying knives and swearing allegiance to UK Bloods and Crips.
He said: “For some it’s not serious–they see it as games or part of their street culture and identity to adopt practices from LA.
“But the problem starts when they carry knives and get into arguments–then the violence follows and gang membership escalates.”
UK crime expert Wensley Clarkson said former LA-based Bloods and Crips are now plying their trade in Europe.
He added: “Britain offers rich pickings for these gangs as there’s still a huge market for cocaine.”
Ex-LA Crips member Melvin Johnson, 38, said youth knife crime in the UK has “shocked” criminals in California.
He works to prevent gang crime after serving 11 years for drug offences.
Melvin said: “Britain needs help bad. Over here was terrible but your country is now famous for being Broken Britain.”
Police told The Sun Bloods and Crips rivalry in London intensified after the stabbing of Seyi Ogunyemi, 16, in Stockwell last April.
He was caught up in tensions between the Bloods-supporting O-Tray gang and the Crips’ All Bout Money.
Some gangs like the South London-based Cherry Young Bloods have posted videos of themselves in red scarves on the web.
More than 1,000 gangs were known to be operating in Britain last year.
The Crips were founded in 1969 and made huge profits from crack cocaine.
Their name referred to their “crippled” victims.
The Bloods were a splinter group who inflicted horrific violence.
Murdered rap legends Biggie Smalls (The Notorious B.I.G) and Tupac (2Pac) Shakur were allegedly linked with the Crips.