LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Two men appeared in court, Thursday, a day after the Lee County Sheriff's Office arrested several accused of involvement in a different gang.
Family members of those accused in the Lake Boyz case believe the charges were unfair. Parents told 4 In Your Corner the Lake Boyz were not a real gang.
Now, more than a year later, law enforcement in Lee County arrested 9 people for being part of the Zoe Pound street gang. Deputies said over six months, they uncovered suspects were trafficking drugs and guns in the Pine Manor area.
Zos are a gang out of Miami.
FGCU Professor David Thomas, who has worked in law enforcement including gang suppression units for decades, says when it comes to gangs, location doesn't matter. "Gangs are a universal thing. It's not based on location because you find them in the smallest suburbs or the big cities."
Thomas says what matters in determining whether a group is a gang are crimes and their connections to a unified group. "Look at the activity. What are these people doing?"
So what makes the Zos and the Lake Boyz different? Thomas says not much, if similar crimes are being committed, even if one seems more organized than the other. "Talk about sophistication, all you need is a leader."
Thomas says we can stop the spread of gangs in our area by teaching children about them early on. "Set anything up for your kids when they're in elementary school so they can teach them how to make good decisions, so they want to stay away from gangs.