Annapolis, Md. (WJZ)– Anne Arundel County officials say violent gangs are growing larger and more dangerous, which resulted in the creation of a new police task force that will tackle the problem head-on.
Three gang members were charged with beating a student at Annapolis High school. They were tying to force him to join The murderous gang known as MS-13.
Another nine gang members are also facing charges in a separate double-stabbing. The victims were found in bleeding in two separate locations, both survived.
Police say the violent crimes, which occurred in 2016, are part of a gang problem that’s only getting worse.
“These gangs are terrorizing some local communities here in Anne Arundel County acting almost like local police enforcers. Threatening residents and committing brutal acts too unspeakable to detail here,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh.
Now, the County and Annapolis City police are launching a joint task force that will target hundreds of gang members where they live, recruit and operate.
The FBI will help the task force with intelligence and personnel.
People in the area say young people are often the gang victims and perpetrators.
“It’s sad. A lot of them probably don’t have a father figure at home so they relate to getting in a gang,” said local pastor Rodney Simms.
“It makes me very afraid because I have 3 children and two of them are teenagers,” parent Dominga Luengas said.
Some of the hardest hit communities have a high number of undocumented immigrants, who are often too afraid to report gang activity.
Authorities say they will not report the immigration status of anyone cooperating with police.
“We are here to help you. If you’re walking in fear it stops. It stops. Ask for help we will be there,” said Chief Timothy Altomare of the Anne Arundel County police. “We are here for you and we won’t leave you hanging.”
Officials say if you are approached by gang members and asked to do anything, Do not follow their orders and report them immediately. You can report any gang activity by calling 911 or 410-222-4700.