OGDEN -- With technology allowing connections to be made worldwide via MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, gang members have found new ways to spread their messages and boast their gang ties to more people than ever, allowing gangs from multiple areas to connect with one another.
With gang members connecting past county lines, local law enforcement agencies also are connecting to help crack down on gang activity in their communities.
"It develops resources," said Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley. "We have our problems, which are similar to Salt Lake City and Logan and others."
Hundreds of law enforcement, school and community officials met Wednesday and Thursday for the Northern Utah Gang and Youth Violence Conference to discuss border issues and share reports on what is happening locally.
"We are reaching out to everybody involved with gangs," Conley said Thursday. "We're getting the word out on the streets and trying to become involved."
Detectives from Salt Lake City, Logan, Davis County and Ogden gave updates on their regional gang issues Thursday.
The agencies painted a similar picture of gang members throughout the state: Most are between 10 and 24 years old, they come from all ethnic groups and socioeconomic statuses, and most lack family support. They are commonly identified by wearing their gang colors, wearing or tattooing their gang's numbers on their bodies, and displaying gang hand signals.
Logan Police Detective Denny Bird said several gangs with Nortenos affiliations and a few with Sureno affiliations are active in the Cache County area.
He said the area also has had issues with second- and third-generation gang members -- people being born into gangs because their parents and grandparents were members.
Some parents will ask their children to commit crimes for them, he said, telling the story of a young man who stole an iPod. When his father found out, he said he wouldn't tell anyone if the son stole one for him, too.
"You have to contrast what they are dealing with at home to what they are dealing with at school," Bird advised school officials.
He said the area also has had issues with white supremacist gangs and Juggalos. Juggalos follow the hard-core hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse, whose music often has extremely violent undertones. Members often wear face paint and wear ICP-associated images, such as evil clowns.
Davis County Sheriff's Detective Greg Spring said officials in his area are not seeing as much gang activity as in the past, but the county has graffiti issues.
It also has had issues with motorcycle gangs and homegrown gangs with affiliations to the Surenos.
In Salt Lake County, Detectives Lorenzo Leuluai and Tony Tueller reported a local gang with Crip affiliations had at least 110 documented members -- 80 percent of whom live in Glendale, west of Salt Lake City. The county's largest street gang has more than 200 members.
They also reported having issues with motorcycle gangs and white supremacist gangs.
Four Ogden detectives gave an update about several local gangs with both Sureno and Norteno ties. Detective Kim Rodell also spoke about the impact of women in the gang world.
"They are used to transport and conceal weapons, drugs and money," she said. "They provide transportation, they are messengers, and they provide housing."
Conley said allowing the various agencies to come together and share reports and compare similar gangs and gang activities helps officials better serve their communities.
"We take this very seriously," he said. "We're working hard to make our streets safer. We are all coming together to work on an issue."