A few weeks ago, admitted Bloods gang member Laval Farmer was convicted in a federal court on Long Island of shooting Jose White after seeing his blue clothing and mistaking him for a rival Crip, reports Newsday. Farmer faces a possible life sentence. About 30 other families on Long Island have lost someone to gang violence, and membership in gangs continues to grow despite efforts to reduce their ranks.
“Now we have an epidemic, whether people want to admit it or not,” said Sergio Argueta, who lectures police and social agencies and has become an authority on Long Island gangs. In Nassau County, according to a police spokesman, gang membership has grown from a handful in the mid-1990s to between 2,500 and 3,000 today. Argueta, a former gang member who founded the Hempstead nonprofit STRONG Youth Inc. to provide alternatives to gangs, said their ranks have grown on Long Island because police, social organizations, and parents were slow to acknowledge that children of the suburbs could turn to violent groups to fill voids in their life. Groups like the Crips, Bloods, and the Salvadoran gang MS-13 flourished in working-class areas, he said, where educational and job opportunities were limited and a thin political base had little power to react.