New Gang in County Initiates Students

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 31, 2007

It was an initiation into a new gang, the Black Spade Organization, and it took place in a boys' bathroom in March at a Fairfax County secondary school, according to court documents. While two students beat on the recruit, a third timed it for 12 seconds.

The incident, at South County Secondary School, touched off a month-long Fairfax police investigation and led to the arrests of four students, ages 14, 15, and 17, police said yesterday. They were each charged with gang participation and recruitment. The three youngest also were charged with hazing, and the oldest faces a destruction of property charge. No students were injured.

Detective Jason C. Herbert was called to the school last month to investigate the March 21 gang initiation, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed yesterday in Fairfax Circuit Court.

The Black Spade Organization, known as the Spades, is affiliated with the nationally known Folk Nation gang, according to court documents. Police officials said they think this is the first time the Spades have existed in Fairfax.

The affidavit provided a glimpse into the workings of the new gang. Herbert said students told him that an initiation, or "jump in," lasts 12 seconds and involves "body shots only, no heads shots." They said the lowest-ranking members, or "baby spades," must commit crimes to prove their allegiance to the gang. The crimes can include vandalism, robbery and assault.

The incident at the school, which opened in 2005 on the site of the former D.C. prison in Lorton, marks the second time this spring that police have arrested Fairfax students in connection with gang initiations on campus.

In March, a teacher broke up a gang initiation in a bathroom at Hayfield Secondary School in Kingstowne. Police said they later learned that seven other teenagers had voluntarily been initiated into the gang. Four students were charged with gang recruiting on school grounds and gang participation.

Police spokesman Eddy Azcarate, a former gang investigator, said that there are 2,000 to 3,000 gang members in the county, mostly ages 12 to 24, and that the number constantly changes. Each county high school has a full-time police officer who helps watch for signs of gang activity. "Schools take this very seriously," schools spokesman Paul Regnier said. "We know that there are gangs in the community. Unfortunately in this case, it did get into the school, but the administration and the police managed to get a handle on it relatively early."

Regnier said officials at South County, which has about 3,000 students in grades 7 to 12, have hosted workshops to help parents recognize signs that might indicate gang activity, such as the use of hand signs or wearing a particular style of clothing. The school is planning another workshop this summer.

Staff writer Tom Jackman contributed to this report.

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