Old dealership used as gang HQ - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Old dealership used as gang HQ

July 6, 2005

Albany--An abandoned Albany car dealership has become a haven for drinking and sex by gang members. Police say the Old Pritchett Ford building on Slappey is a gathering place for one gang.

On the second floor of the old Pritchett Ford car dealership in the 400 block of North Slappey, gang signs and graffiti are painted on the floors and walls. Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards said "The C.M.E. Rattlers. The Insane Rattlesnake Sect has left most of the graffiti here."

In one corner, a grimy mattress and pad, where, police say, the gang members had sex. Edwards said "To initiate young girls by sexing them in. As you can see, it's a pretty filthy locale, but that doesn't matter to the girls that seem to want to be part of this thing."

All around the mattress, condom wrappers and beer cans. Edwards said "Right, teenagers, mostly involved in this type of activity here."

The Albany gang task force has been watching this building for months. They have even got the Rattlers' instruction manual. Edwards said "A gang book of knowledge. And with the book of knowledge we were able to interpret some of the signs."

The Rattlers revolve around the number 7. The three prong pitch fork and three headed snake are also part of their gang language. Edwards said "Some of the symbolism of the gang, including the gang alphabet."

Before dawn the Albany SWAT Team stormed the Pritchett building, as an exercise. They did not expect to find any gang members. They were sending a message. SWAT Commander Major Bill Berry said "They know we are aware of the situation up here."

The SWAT Team says a number of young men were closely watching them before dawn inside the old Pritchett building. Now they say the gang members will move to another location, and the Gang Task Force says they will continue watching them.

13 suspected members of the C.M.E. Rattlers were indicted by the Grand Jury in May for burglary and car break ins. They are between the ages of 14 and 20 years old.

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