Polk Sheriff arrests alleged gang members in 'Operation Rap It Up'

4:43 PM, Oct 12, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Operation Rap it Up: Alleged gang members arrested

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Lakeland, Florida - You can find just about everything on the Internet. Just ask Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. 

On Tuesday morning, Judd announced "Operation Rap it Up" where alleged gang members are busted for trying to recruit people online.

Photo Gallery: Operation Rap It Up

Sheriff's Office Gang detectives served two search warrants at different residences and arrested seven suspects. Detectives discovered multiple music videos and images on websites such as YouTube and MySpace. 

The suspects were using slick rap videos, and slide shows showing gangs hanging out, even baiting dogs.

The Sheriff told the media that it is a felony to announce gang interest online.

Detectives have charged the following suspects with Unlawful Use of Electronic Communications  and Recruiting Gang Membership:

The Sheriff said all four suspects are previously documented gang members within the same gang. 

Detectives also charged the following suspects with fighting or baiting animals:

 

Detectives recognized the suspects as a result of prior contact.  The suspects were using their positions within the gang to promote their own financial endeavors, as well as, promote gang affiliation. 

All charges are third degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Sheriff says the reason they are cracking down on internet gang activity is that just two weeks ago detectives arrested what they say is a known gang member.  Santos Hernandez was arrested for allegedly killing and burying Marco Martinez, a teen who had been missing for months.

Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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