U.S. Attorney taking gangs off the streets in Florence

Reported by Jake Levy, SCRN
Three Florence gang members have been sentenced to federal prison.  The United States Attorney’s Office announced that John Marquis Johnson, 21, Anthony Terrell Stuckey, 22, and Quincy Aaron Moses, 19, were sentenced to fifteen, ten and five years in jail, respectively, for federal drug and firearm charges.
They were three of seven men indicted in December 2008, who were involved in the “900 Boyz” street gang.  The gang committed a string of crimes during the week leading up to Halloween last year.  Most of the members were arrested on a federal complaint on October 30, 2008 and still remain in custody.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rose Mary Parham is prosecuting the case. She says the county has names of gangs and their members in the area.
“We prosecute in a county area here in the Florence division and we have the names of the gangs and their membership, and we’re doing one at a time,” she says.
The Florence Police Department, SLED and the FBI are working together to combat the gang violence in the area.Parham says that there are still a lot of gangs and that this intense attempt to thwart gangs does have a positive effect.
“You know there are a lot of gangs out there.  I think it makes an impact when they see that federal and local authorities are taking a serious look at them,” she said.
Parham says that ever since the 900 Boyz were taken off the streets the Florence community feels safer. “We’ve received letters from people in the community saying that, you know, they appreciate our efforts, that the children can ride bicycles now in the streets, and just thanking the FBI for handling this case, ” says Parham.
Parham says that gangs start locally but then start to identify with the national gang scene: “They start identifying with either the crips or bloods nationwide, and kind of adopt their rules,” she said.
The gang members are usually in their twenties, but there are high school gang members as well. “Members are in their high schools and I think parents can see a lot of warning signs as far as tattoos and displaying gang signs and things of that nature.  I think we parents, and as a community, need to stay on top of things the best we can,” she said.
Parham says more often than not, what seems to be a random act of violence is actually gang related.