Pocono Gangs: Photo and Story Correction

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By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
The Associated Press
Monday, August 14, 2006; 8:48 PM

-- An Associated Press photo and story on this Aug. 6 story on what police say is gang-related violence in the Poconos showed Robert Ryals and Thaddeus Manzano standing in the doorway of Ryals' house. The caption did not make clear the context in which Manzano and Ryals were interviewed. They were talking with a reporter about the violence in their neighborhood. The caption and story also misspelled Ryals' name as Ryales.

TOBYHANNA, Pa. (AP) _ When New Yorkers and Philadelphians want to get away from the noise and crowds, they often come to the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

It's a bucolic, tourist-friendly place of forests and streams and lakes, a place where you can play a round of golf, take in a show, angle for trout or simply lose yourself on a country road.

A place where a Crip or a Blood would seem ... out of place.

Yet, jarringly, they are here: gang members from New York City and its suburbs who authorities say have quietly taken up residence in some of the private, gated communities of the Poconos, where they can stake out new drug turf with little interference from municipal or state police.

Many of these gang members are teenagers and young adults, brought here by their parents to escape big-city crime but instead bringing crime with them _ creating fear and resentment among long-established residents.

"We're trying to stop the problem before it becomes overwhelming," said state police Maj. Joseph T. Marut, whose command includes much of the Poconos.

While the crime rate is still relatively low and gang violence has flared only sporadically, gang members have already made their presence felt in ways that frustrate and frighten the law-abiding majority.

Early on Jan. 14, police sirens awakened Susan Yanni and her neighbors in A Pocono Country Place, one of the region's largest private communities. Down the street, in a white Colonial, a wild melee had erupted between Crips and Bloods, and a reputed Blood was stabbed in the abdomen and forearm, authorities say.

Months later, Yanni shakes her head at the violence.

"It's getting too close to my backyard," said Yanni, 54, a school bus driver who has lived in the development for nearly two decades. "If I really want to deal with this, I can go back to New York."

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© 2006 The Associated Press

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