As it has been for several decades, the expansion continues, as this story from The Tennessean reports.
“Overwhelmed police officers admit gangs have taken hold in all corners of Tennessee to sell drugs, steal and kill. What was once largely an urban crisis has spread to suburban and rural communities.
“Middle Tennessee's gangs are no longer just graffiti-spraying juvenile delinquents.
“They are armed and dangerous criminal enterprises that recruit young people with the allure of fast money, street status and a sense of belonging — even if the group they join may get them killed or sent to prison.
"People don't understand there are drive-by shootings going on in Murfreesboro," said Ed Yarbrough, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. "There are witness-elimination killings happening at (the) Hickory Hollow Mall (area). We've got this mindset that suburban areas don't have a gang problem, but we need to wake up to the fact that they do and drive them out."
“As in Tennessee, gang activity has spiked nationwide.
“Nearly 800,000 gang members and 27,000 gangs operate across the 50 states, a Justice Department survey shows. Some estimates have the figure at 2 million gang members.
“While there are no statewide numbers, gangs are present in most of the state's 95 counties, including many communities in the Nashville area, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report says. Police have identified 5,000 gang members in Davidson County. Murfreesboro estimates 400 to 500. Columbia has 200….
“Gangs call themselves the Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Sur-13, Kurdish Pride and dozens of other names. Some are chapters of national brands. They recruit in schools and in parks. Girls are joining at increasing rates, and affiliation among whites is on the rise — shattering stereotypes that gangs attract only minorities and boys….
“In a smoke-filled apartment in Jackson, 10 gang members gathered for a meeting. A painting of the Virgin Mary hung on the wall above the leader. He called himself Crazy Joker and said he oversees the Sur-13 gang in Tennessee. Sur-13 is one of the nation's fastest-growing gangs and pledges allegiance to the Mexican Mafia, a Mexican-American criminal organization.
“We're in it to make money," said Crazy Joker…”