A recent article published in the Federal Way Mirror detailed how some of Tacoma's more established gangs have begun setting down roots.
Our Tacoma defense attorneys know "gang crimes" can reference a number of different crimes, namely burglaries, auto theft, drug trafficking, graffiti and prostitution. But they can be much more serious, including murder and human trafficking. Crimes that are committed in furtherance of the gang may be punished more severely than those that are carried out without the influence of a gang.
The law says that if a jury or judge finds that the crime was a street-gang-related felony offense, you may receive a sentence that is 125 percent above the statutory minimum. Exactly how much higher will be calculated by tabulating the seriousness level of the crime and then multiplying the range by 125 percent. If that amount exceeds the statutory maximum, the individual will serve the statutory maximum - unless he or she is a repeat offender, in which case the judge has the discretion to dole out even more time.
Under RCW 9.94A.030, a criminal street gang is any group of three or more persons who have a common identifying symbol or sign and whose ongoing primary activities include the commission of criminal acts and whose members, either individually or together, engage in a pattern of criminal street gang activity.
In addition to enhancements, someone involved in gang crimes might additionally be charged with criminal conspiracy, RCW 9A.28.040, which involves the agreement of two or more persons to cause the performance of criminal conduct and then any one of those individuals subsequently takes significant action to carry out that crime.
If the suspected gang member is a minor enrolled in school, he or she may be suspended or expelled for engaging in gang activity on school grounds.
Among the Tacoma and Pierce County gangs that have become now entrenched in Federal Way and other parts of South King County are: Family Mafia Crips, 74 Hoover Criminals, South Side Playboys, King Underground Surenos, West Side Mafia Blood Gang, Sons of Samoa and Sureno King Lokotes.
Federal Way has had a number of high-profile gang-related crimes in recent years, including:
- A July 2011 shooting at a car show, in which 12 people were injured. Six alleged gang members were arrested, prompting a $1.4 million proposal to combat gangs.
- A July 2012 fatal shooting outside a bar and grill.
Between January of 2010 and December of 2011, nine gang-related cases were tabulated in Federal Way. Most of those crimes were reportedly committed by gang members who lived outside the county. Primarily, those have included shootings, stabbings, armed robberies, burglaries, drive-by shootings and gun possession.
A recent report filed by the King County Sheriff's Office indicates there are an estimated 12,000 gang members in the county, with a total of about 145 active gangs, some of multiple generations and most including both men and women.