Action News 5 Investigates: Gangland - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Action News 5 Investigates: Gangland

Gangs have turned a once-quiet Memphis neighborhood into a ticking time bomb.  Detectives say at least four gangs are trying to take over the Klondike neighborhood in North Memphis.
  
On a recent summer day, a Memphis teenager proudly wore a purple bandana through the neighborhood, signifying his membership in the L.A. born Grape Street Crips.

"I see other folks gettin' stuff that I wanted, and that's what made me get on the boat," he said.

The Crips claim Mansfield Street as their own, but each street in either direction belongs to a different gang.

"You got Crips over here. Vice Lords around there. Bloods around there on the other end," the teen said.

Undercover detectives with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office Street Crimes Unit say the neighborhood is a powder keg ready to explode.

"I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet over there," one officer said.

A old grocery store is where battle lines are drawn.  A number of different gangs have tagged it, marking their territory.  An undercover officer took us on a tour of the area, where graffiti is everywhere.  So are tennis shoes, hanging from power lines, signifying where drugs are for sale.

"It all goes back to money," the officer said.

It's a quest for cash that often ends badly.  The neighborhood has certainly seen its share of violence already.  Some places people have been killed are marked by make-shift memorials.

Recent crime statistics in the neighborhood include:

  • 43 reports of vandalism
  • 12 drug arrests
  • 7 aggravated assaults
  • 7 home burglaries
  • 6 robberies

Neighborhood resident Ethel Wilson said she is often afraid to leave her house of 35 years.

"It was a real nice neighborhood when I came over here," she said.

A Memphis Police Department sub-station sits across the street from Northside High, but detectives say it takes more than them to make a difference.

"If we're going to combat gangs, you just can't depend on your law enforcement to automatically know about this problem," one officer said.

In the meantime, Crips like the teen described at the beginning of this story say they will continue to wear their colors and deny they cause violence.
 
"What we do is provide for our community and our neighborhood, and look out for them," he said.

'Look out' by promising to respond if another gang threatens their street, their territory, or their turf.


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