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December 07, 2016

Philly sees big increase in gang activity, feds say

Many drugs readily available in the city, according to DEA

Gang activity in Philadelphia and the surrounding region increased dramatically over a four-year period while the availability of many drugs remains high in the city, according to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

From 2009-2013, the Philadelphia Police Department identified 169 gangs operating within the city and the immediate suburbs, the agency said in a report released Tuesday.

That number represents a 76 percent increase during the four years. Gangs are classified of groups of three or more that use an identifying symbol, such as a name or tattoo, to engage in criminal activity.

The gangs in Philadelphia control heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, and prescription drug distribution, the DEA said.

The statistics come from the agency's annual "National Drug Treat Assessment Summary." Its release comes shortly after reports of "bad batches" of heroin causing overdose deaths across the city.

Over the weekend, nine people died of drug overdoses in Kensington, a neighborhood plagued by an ongoing heroin epidemic.

Philadelphia reported high levels of availability for heroin and other drugs, including methamphetamine, and cocaine.

The DEA report said that Mexican criminal organizations have set up distribution hubs for these drugs in cities like Philadelphia, and Dominican groups dominate of much of the mid-level distribution of drugs like cocaine and prescription drugs.

The availability of Phencyclidine, better known as PCP, is increasing in the city as well, with dealers found to be operating in housing projects, as well as pockets of North and Northeast Philadelphia.

African American, Jamaican, and caucasian criminal groups are mainly responsible for the distribution of PCP in Philadelphia, according to the DEA report.

The full DEA report can be read here.