- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The FBI says it has seen an uptick in gang activity in Anchorage, with most of the crime centered on drugs.

FBI agent Mike Watson described Anchorage as a “melting pot” for various types of gangs, which have been active in the city for years.

“We see a little bit of everything,” Watson told KTVA-TV https://bit.ly/2hD4fQf). “We’ve seen, in the past, connections to Mexican cartels. We see Hispanic gangs, we see white Aryan gangs, so it’s not just the Bloods and Crips.”

Watson said people from across the country come to Alaska’s largest city to participate in the illegal activity because of the high prices for drugs. Dealers can make up to five times the profit selling drugs in Anchorage compared to California, he said.

“People from the Lower 48 or other areas can come up here and make a lot of money selling narcotics,” said Watson, a member of the Safe Streets Task Force, an interagency group that works to stop gang violence. “We will get people up here part time from some of the Lower 48 gangs to do that.”

While Anchorage gangs are a problem for the city, they are not as prominent as those in other states, said former Anchorage police detective Scott Lofthouse.

Lofthouse led a gang intelligence unit for the police department that has since been disbanded.

“It’s frustrating because I think the general public needs to know what’s happening out there on their streets,” Lofthouse said.

As far as solutions to reducing crime, Watson said gang activity will likely persist as long as the demand for drugs is there.

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Information from: KTVA-TV, https://www.ktva.com

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