Gangs in the Valley

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

"They're coming from bigger cities, bringing that kind of issue right into the nice, quiet, little Shenandoah Valley," says Jeffrey Roehm, the Special Agent in charge of the Washington, D.C. field office of ATF - the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

He's talking about gangs and the trouble that comes with them. It's all right here in the Valley. Local Bloods and Crips. Even the Warlocks Motorcycle Gang.

Investigating them, their guns and drugs is what Roehm does best. So, who better to ask why gang-related crime is becoming a bigger problem in the Valley?

"Drug dealers see less competition there. They intimidate the local criminals. They're a big fish in a little pond, and they set up shop," he explains.

Roehm also says the Valley's prime location near interstates 66 and 81 make it an easy hub for drug trafficking.

"I think also unfortunately, some of the local law enforcement is unprepared for this type of activity and that's what the criminals are relying on," Roehm says.

But he says that's all changed dramatically in the past few years with increased inter-agency cooperation and the creation of drug task forces.

Virginia's Attorney General Jerry Kilgore is also addressing the problem with a new anti-gang task force. He's proposing tough penalties for gang crimes.

Roehm says that sends a strong message to local gangs.

"Don't underestimate the capabilities of your local police departments," he says.

Roehm says you can help, too. Community involvement is critical in studying and stopping local gang activity. He says to report any graffiti and gang paraphernalia you see to the police.


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