After an apparent slowdown in Seattle’s gang-related violence in recent years, drive-by shootings and assaults began to surge in 2006 and continue to be a problem this year, says the Seattel Post-Intelligencer. “I think we’re gonna find it’s going to be a busy summer,” Seattle police Gang Unit supervisor Lt. Ron Wilson said. “I think it’s picking up now.” The increase has come despite recent high-profile crackdowns, such as the arrests by local and federal authorities in May of nearly 50 men, many of them alleged to be gang members, on various drug charges.
Hoping to give gang-unit detectives more time on the streets, homicide detectives have been tapped to follow up on cases that would normally bog down gang detectives. Seattle’s Gang Unit was formed in the 1980s when gang crime seemed to be epidemic. As the level of violence waned, so too did the unit. At one time numbering more than 25 detectives, it has just six now and a sergeant. Investigators say a number of factors are contributing to the recent increase in gang violence — older gangsters released from prison looking to reassert their authority, fights over drug turf, and a settling of scores over offenses real and perceived.