Fairfax County Police Department Gang Unit detectives speaking to Franconia’s Citizen Advisory Committee meeting last week brought bad news and good news. The bad: The Franconia area is threatened by Salvadoran gang MS-13, a group so notorious one detective called it a terrorist threat. The good: Gang activity in area high schools is at a new low.
The two detectives who spoke at the CAC meeting at the Franconia Government Center asked not to be photographed or named in this story for their own safety.
The detectives estimated there are more than 100 gangs in Fairfax County, and between 2,000 and 3,000 gang members. The Franconia District, which includes Kingstowne, Rose Hill and parts of Annandale and Lorton, has 13 gangs, according to the detectives showed.
While gang members in the area are rarely obvious, they can be spotted by a keen observer, one detective said.
“You will see them flagging out there,” the detective said, referring to gang members flashing handsigns or wearing gang colors.
Gang activity in local high schools is lower than it was a few years ago, according to one detective, although the gang list did include a group specific to Hayfield High School—the Latin Homies. One detective talked about the investigation of the Tiny Rascal Gang at Edison High School in 2010.
“We took care of those kids real quick,” he said.
Even Lee High School, which experienced a spate of gang graffiti after a 2007 murder at Springfield Mall tied to MS-13, has quieted down, detectives said.
Still, the detectives said the Franconia Police District continues to be threatened by gangs. MS-13 is the ”biggest threat right now” in the area, according to one detective. The gang is also active in the McLan and Mason districts.
Another detective said some crime in Franconia may be perpetrated by another, less traditional gang: people who listen to the rap group Insane Clown Posse.
Fans of the group, who call themselves “juggalos” or, for female fans, “juggalettes,” listen to “horrorcore” music, a subgenre of rap that focuses on gruesome topics like murder and rape, a detective said. He said juggalos have been responsible for assaults, robberies, child pornography, and even a murder in Fairfax County. He declined to name the murder case.
The detective cautioned that listening to the Insane Clown Posse, or even being a juggalo, does not mean a person is a criminal.
“Don’t freak out,” he advised people who might know a juggalo, saying listening to the music does not make a person a criminal. The detective described attending an ICP concert in Norfolk, Va., and being treated well by a juggalo who thought he was a fan.
“A lot of people consider them a cult,” he said. According to the detective, Rose Hill’s Gangster Disciples consider themselves juggalos.
The detectives said anyone who sees the “Hatchet Man,” an ICP symbol, should report it to Fairfax County police. The image, the silhouette of a running man carrying a hatchet or cleaver, can sometimes be seen on cars, according to the detective. He asked that people send them the license plate numbers of cars with the Hatchet Man logo.
“I’d just like to talk to [reported juggalos],” the detective said.
The detectives urged anyone with gang-related information to contact the unit at 703-246-2511.