The Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings and Vice Lords were born decades ago in Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. Now, their gang graffiti is showing up 6,400 miles away in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods -- Iraq.
Armored vehicles, concrete barricades and bathroom walls all have served as canvasses for their spray-painted gang art. At Camp Cedar II, about 185 miles southeast of Baghdad, a guard shack was recently defaced with "GDN" for Gangster Disciple Nation, along with the gang's six-pointed star and the word "Chitown," a soldier who photographed it said.
The graffiti, captured on film by an Army Reservist and provided to the Chicago Sun-Times, highlights increasing gang activity in the Army in the United States and overseas, some experts say.
Jeffrey Stoleson, an Army Reserve sergeant in Iraq, is seen in front of a barricade tagged with gang graffiti in March in Iraq. Stoleson, who has been in Iraq for almost a year, says he has taken hundreds of photos of gang graffiti there.
Military and civilian police investigators familiar with three major Army bases in the United States -- Fort Lewis, Fort Hood and Fort Bragg -- said they have been focusing recently on soldiers with gang affiliations. These bases ship out many of the soldiers fighting in Iraq.
"I have identified 320 soldiers as gang members from April 2002 to present," said Scott Barfield, a Defense Department gang detective at Fort Lewis in Washington state. "I think that's the tip of the iceberg."
Monday, May 01, 2006
TAGGING IN BAGHDAD
Where's the last place you'd expect to see U.S. gang graffiti? In Saddam-less Iraq, naturally. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Gangs outta Fort Hood. You can't make this stuff up.