Anarchy in Allapattah

Residents of Allapattah have come to fear the boys who hang at 1024, And they have reason to

"I was like, damn! I gotta drive all the time now," he recalls.
He doesn't remember how much they got from that job. They split up the goods and each boy sold them on his own. He thinks the most he ever reaped from a night's haul was about $5000, after plundering a Radio Shack of computers, radios, and phones.

The others listen to Black's story and grin. They stare at the ground and scuff pebbles. They murmur encouragement: "That's right!" and "The police are nasty!" Across the street an older man in a T-shirt and green baseball cap eyes the boys wearily as he works on his front door.

The boys insist, however, that not everyone hanging out at 1024 is in the crew. Doo, for instance, says he doesn't steal cars or go on the smash and grabs. But he is down with his friends. "I watch their backs," he says. By their own description, crew members don't belong to an organized gang. There is no initiation or strict hierarchy. They don't even have a consistent tag for themselves. Sometimes its the 38th Street Crew, the 38th Street Boys, or the 38th Street Click, other times the Trey 8 Street Crew or the Trey 8 St. Souljahz.

According to Black and others, the crew formed about four years ago as a group of idle teens looking for money and action. They got their inspiration from movies like 1995's New Jersey Drive, about kids joy riding in stolen cars. But Black insists his buddies aren't the ones ripping off the gun stores now, and Doo seconds this. He says another crew is stealing cars and driving around their neighborhood to frame his friends.

"They assume we bust the gun stores because we bust the clothing stores," Black says. "They just assume that. We never bust no gun store."

But back in the day?
Black can't contain himself: "Yeah, we busted 'em. It was more like a pawn store. Y'know." They squirreled away Tec-9's, Colt .45 automatics, and Berettas. And they didn't sell them, either, Black says; they used them for protection and enforcement. "A lot of older people we be selling to were trying to rip us off," he notes. "They're kind of scared of us now. They think twice about coming up on us."

If the crew members are adamant about anything, it's that their street credibility keeps growing. "We got a lot of rank on the street," C-Lo says, adding that it makes them a target for police and street rivals. "A lot of people around here hate to see a nigga come up."

There's no doubt, the Mitsubishi Boys are frustrating the police. After all, it's not a crime to hang out on the street, or in a private home. Unless the boys are caught with guns or stolen property, there's not much police can do to alleviate neighbors' concerns.

Complicating matters are the county's rules regarding police chases. A few years ago the Dade County chiefs of police adopted a policy prohibiting high-speed chases for anything other than violent crimes. So far the boys are linked only to property crimes, such as car theft and smash and grabs. Which means, by and large, that the cops are not allowed to chase them.

Privately, many officers say the chase policy hinders their ability to nab the Mitsubishi Boys. "Something's got to get done," one shift supervisor says in exasperation. "My hands are tied."

But Chief Warshaw stands by the policy. "I have very strong feelings on the chase policy," he says. "I don't think it really hampers us in bringing this particular group to justice. There is always going to be another day and unless someone's life is in jeopardy, I'm not going to risk bystanders getting killed. Some cops have a problem with that."

In fact, one of the boys who ran with the 38th Street Crew, Andre Mims, died in 1995 when a stolen Honda he was driving crashed during a police chase. He was fifteen and was wanted for taking part in a purse snatching in which a group of boys knocked a woman down.

"We're aware of what's happening," Warshaw says. "We have field-carded a lot of these kids on numerous occasions. We're talking to the State Attorney's Office. I mean, there's some aggressive work going on. But these things take time."

The focus is not just on the boys who gather at Connie Anguiera's house, but on Connie Anguiera herself. "I'm not sure what her interest is in all of this," Warshaw says. "We're looking into that."

Assistant Chief John Brooks adds: "She has to be aware of the crimes committed by some of the people hanging around the location and their past criminal history. And we have to take steps to hold her accountable." These steps include contacting the state Department of Rehabilitative Services, which can launch its own investigation into who lives in Anguiera's home and can remove any minors residing there.

The mayor's visit, the talk of a police crackdown -- none of it seems to matter at 1024, where life continues as before.

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