- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

FREDERICK, Md. — Police have broken up Crips street-gang factions in three mostly rural Maryland counties where organizers from New York had recruited local thugs to sell drugs, Maryland State Police Secretary Col. Thomas E. Hutchins said yesterday.

Fifty-three gang members have been arrested in Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties in a two-year investigation by state, county and local authorities, Col. Hutchins said.

The more than 150 charges include attempted murder, armed robbery, assaults on police officers, weapons violations and drug crimes.

“I’d say they’ve been dismantled as far as organizational structure, for sure, and it has also probably sent some definite shock waves through the other gangs that are located or active in the area,” Col. Hutchins said.

He said the two factions — the Outlaw Gangster Crips and the Money Making Gangster Crips — operated in communities as small as Taneytown, with a population of just under 5,500, and as remote as Hagerstown, a city of 38,000 in the Appalachian foothills, 70 miles west of Baltimore.

It was the biggest arrest in Maryland of the nationwide Crips gang.

Col. Hutchins said that the immensity of the case proves that “whether we’re in a rural area, whether we’re in a suburban area that’s in transition, whether we’re in a major urban center, that we’re not immune from the reach of gang activity.”

Increased gang violence in Maryland has become a major law-enforcement concern and a key election-year issue.

Last August, federal prosecutors indicted 19 members of Mara Salvatrucha, a Central American gang also known as MS-13, on racketeering charges in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

In June, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican seeking re-election, announced the establishment of a statewide database of gang activity.

The Crips probe officially began in 2004 amid escalating violence by people local police previously had regarded as petty offenders.

Westminster Police Chief Jeffrey Spaulding traced the gang activity there to May 2002, when Crip members confronted Officer Radcliffe Darby while he was on foot patrol and punched him in the face.

That was followed by shootings, stabbings and armed robberies in what had been a relatively peaceful community.

“Typically, we see very few robberies in the city of Westminster,” Chief Spaulding said

But when local offenders started affiliating with the Crips, “we started getting information about them robbing other drug dealers. We had at least three robberies in the city of Westminster. That was really atypical for us,” Chief Spaulding said.

Police arrested the accused leader of the Outlaw Gangster Crips, Lamar C. Wilmore, 28, in June on drug charges.

The accused leader of the Money Making Gangster Crips, Martin K. Williams, 33, has been indicted on drug charges but remains at large, Col. Hutchins said.

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