Fighting gang problem is a top priority for new Greenville Count - FOX Carolina 21

Fighting gang problem is a top priority for new Greenville County Sheriff

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FOX Carolina/Feb. 13, 2017 FOX Carolina/Feb. 13, 2017

We're taking a look at gang activity in the Upstate. Specifically, in Greenville County.  We're told, gangs are here, and they are causing serious trouble.  In fact, gang members have been linked to crimes ranging from murder, to drug and human trafficking.

We spoke with Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis about the issue. 

“We've got about roughly 1,200 identified gang members.”

There have been several recent crimes the Sheriff said have been linked to known gang members.

In early January, a 25-year-old man was found shot to death in the Judson community.  Two teenagers were later arrested, and the Sheriff said, both were self-professed gang members.

Then in February, another murder.  It happened outside the Symposium Ultra Lounge in Greenville County.  And investigators believe the victim had ties to a gang.

“You look at the two murders that have come across so far, both in some way were gang related if a gang member is killed.”

And on Sunday night, extra patrols were added in the county, following the murder at the club.

Sheriff Lewis explained, “Without going into a lot of detail, we received some intelligence yesterday related to the possibility of a large group of people from his gang gathering together to maybe ride around town or go do some things.  So we put some extra people out last night to be on the safe side.”

It's a problem the Sheriff does not shy away from talking about.  And he makes it clear, it's a top priority for his department.

“It’s very high, because a large number of crimes are related to drugs or gangs or both.”

We asked Sheriff Lewis how he plans to fight the problem.  First, he'll be adding a new position to his department, where the focus is on gathering intelligence about local gangs.

“We haven't had anyone specifically dedicated to Greenville County to work the gangs in our own backyard and we are changing that real soon.”

He also would like to see a dedicated Gang Unit for Greenville County specifically, something he's hoping to form in the coming months.

In the meantime, he wants the public to know, he is taking this issue seriously as the new Sheriff, and hopes the community is as well.

“We need the help of all the community members, those who are willing to step forward and say, we're not willing to tolerate this in our community, we need for you to come out and help eliminate this problem.”

The Sheriff told us, the best thing to do is call Crime Stoppers at 23-CRIME.  You can leave anonymous tips about gang activity there.

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