Tongans who spray paint walls in the islands with the initials of an American gang have no idea how bad the criminal groups are, an American gang expert said this week.

US Police Captain Joe Duffy told the Nevada Record-Courier he had seen local graffiti in Tonga  with the tag “TCG.”

Nevada is home to the sixth largest population of Tongans in the United States.

TGC stands for Tonga Crip Gangster, a street gang.

“They didn’t know what it stood for,” he said.

“They just don’t have any experience with this.”

“These are not nice people. These are hardcore bad guys,”

Duffy was  in Tonga to assist in its rehabilitation programme for the Tonga-US deportees to the kingdom.

He said about 30 Tongan nationals were deported from the United States each year. Between 2004-2012 between 22 to 38 people were deported annually according to Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

With an average age of 25, many of those deported have been engaged in gang activity since childhood. They are unfamiliar with their own culture.

The Tongan Crip Gang is active in California and Utah as well as New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Tongan Crip Gang members are primarily of Pacific Islander descent, mainly Tongan.

During the 1970s and 1980s, many Pacific Islanders moved into the high crime-rate areas in Los Angeles. Samoans and Tongans formed their own gangs during the 1970s.

Many of the TCG members moved from California to the Salt Lake City, Utah in the 1980s.

In Utah the gang members have a reputation for violence and vicious gang warfare.

Utah is home to the largest Tongan, Samoan and other Pacific Islander communities in the United States outside of Hawaii and California, with many drawn to Salt Lake area because of their Mormon connections.

According to a US report, while Islanders make up only about one percent of the Salt Lake Valley’s population, they comprise 13 percent of the documented gang members.

“Detectives say that Polynesian gangs stand out due to their violence,” the report in the High Country News said.

“Because of their intimidating physical size, their members often serve as enforcers for other gangs that traffic in drugs. They’re known for their brutal fistfights, and for shooting at their rivals and at law enforcement officials.”

Tongan Crips gang crimes range from robbery to car theft and rugs to murder.

In New Zealand three Tongan Crips gang members were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 for the murder of a rival Samoan Bloods gang member two years before.

The main points

  • Tongans who spray paint walls in the islands with the initials of an American gang have no idea how bad the criminal groups are, an American gang expert said this week.
  • “They just don’t have any experience with this,” US Police Captain Joe Duffy said.
  • “These are not nice people. These are hardcore bad guys.”
  • The Tongan Crip Gang is active in California and Utah as well as New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

For more information

Douglas County gang expert shares knowledge with Tonga

The Gangs of Zion

DCSO Captain Joe Duffy Assists Tongan Parliament Officials

US and Tongan authorities join forces to deal effectively with returning deportees

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