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Monday, 16 May 2011

The Kurdish Pride Gang has expanded, splintering into three groups 38th Street, P-Mills for Paragon Mills, and 8 Block in Harding Place establishing a larger foothold in Middle Tennessee

08:19 | ,

The Kurdish Pride Gang has expanded, splintering into three groups and establishing a larger foothold in Middle Tennessee, gang experts say.

The gang, which started in Nashville, has created three subsets, known in street parlance as cliques, said Metro Police Gang Unit Detective Mark Anderson, a speaker at the 2011 Ethnic Gangs Organized Crime Symposium.

The conference, which ended Friday, ran for three days at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

It brought together law enforcement and community organizations that wanted to learn more about gangs and gang activities.

Middle Tennessee has the nation’s largest Kurdish community, an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people, including many who fled their homeland after they were bombed with chemical weapons by Iraqi armed forces under Saddam Hussein.

Nashville is where the Kurdish gang, the only one in the United States, was formed in 1999.

Middle Tennessee saw a growth in gangs, with 5,000 members cycling in and out over the last 10 years, gang experts say. The area’s population increased and more diverse communities grew with it.

Young Kurds banded together to combat bigotry and protect themselves from others, including gang members, Anderson said.

From there it developed into a gang first known as the Kurdish Boys and then Kurdish Pride, with at most 30 members, said Anderson, who has tracked the gang from the start.

Resurgence puzzles officials

Today, the gang has splintered to three groups — 38th Street, P-Mills for Paragon Mills, and 8 Block in Harding Place — and each gang has 12 to 18 members.

They also have members in Williamson County. It’s typical for gangs to splinter into different sects, but it’s not known what prompted this group’s resurgence.

“They have branched out and are back in recruiting mode,” Anderson said, adding that there are some tribal divisions within the groups. “They are recruiting in middle schools and high schools.”

Just about all Metro high schools have some gang activity, but some gangs are identified with certain schools, police have said.

School districts don’t have a formal method for tracking gangs, and there’s no statewide tracking system. The Metro Police Gang Unit tracks the gangs on the street and keeps a database of gangs and their affiliates.

When Anderson started tracking Kurdish Pride, brothers Ako and Aso Nejad were considered the leaders of the gang.

They were convicted in 2008 of conspiring to kill a drug dealer they suspected of robbing them and firing shots at a park police officer. With the brothers in prison, the gang had no leadership until now.

The group’s signature crimes continue to be burglaries, assaults and sales of prescription and designer drugs.

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