Gang activity continues to grow in New Jersey and these violent thugs are operating everywhere says the state’s top law enforcement official.

Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says, “We shouldn’t kid ourselves – they’re in every community in this state – in one way or another – and they love to really infiltrate every community in this state.”

Testifying recently before the Senate Budget Committee, Chiesa talked about the critical importance of cracking down on gang activity. He said, “Gangs don’t seem to have any inhibitions in terms of who they target or the consequences of their actions…..The biggest problem I have with gang activity is the indiscriminate violence.”

Gangs are well financed which allows them to recruit new members anywhere in the State says Chiesa, “And by ‘recruit’ I mean force people to join them, people who may not have family support systems or who may just be so scared that they don’t think they have a choice as to whether or not they have to join a gang…..What they end up doing is terrorizing communities and taking communities hostage.”

Chiesa explains, “The way they operate does not follow traditional organized crime patterns and they don’t care if they injure or kill a law enforcement officer or a public official or indiscriminately pick somebody out of a neighborhood…..They really don’t operate by any set of rules at all, and they use threats to families, they use threats to neighborhoods to force young people to join the gangs. They try to create a sense of hopelessness.”

Different gang units around the state – including Atlantic City – are now focusing on long-term disruption of the gangs. Chiesa says, “That means go after their drug trade, go after their gun trade, go after whatever illegal activities they may be engaging in to sustain themselves…We have very good gun laws in New Jersey and we have very talented, dedicated law enforcement officers who are doing very dangerous work to infiltrate these gangs and disrupt them and will continue to do it.”