Bill targets adults who use juveniles to profit from gang activity.

Maryland leaders are pushing legislation targeting gang activity.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates testified Tuesday in Annapolis in support of an organized crime bill. It broadens the offenses that can be prosecuted under Maryland’s organized crime statute.

According to Bates, the majority of car thefts and carjackings in Baltimore are committed by juveniles under the direction of adults who belong to a gang or crew.

“Those individuals (are) running around carjacking in groups, three, four, five cars a night,” he said. “There is a group of adults who prey upon juveniles to get them to do this type of activity.”

Bates joined lawmakers and prosecutors in support of the legislation allowing the prosecution of those individuals who profit from gang activity.

“I thought it was imperative that we make the updates that are necessary to our gang statute. It was necessary for us to update this statute to reflect the times of today,” said Prince George’s County Delegate Nicole Williams, D-District 22.

The bill expands the current law with 13 underlying offenses, including the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, altering or removing a vehicle’s VIN number, indecency and obscenity.

“We have observed home videos of sexual violence committed by gang members against young women and juveniles who were clearly under the influence of either alcohol or drugs,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said.

A House committee held a public hearing on the measure. The bill also provides for a course of civil action for crime victims who want to seek compensation.

“This legislation makes common sense improvements to empower victims and to also hold offenders accountable, and restores fairness to critical facets of the criminal justice system,” Bates said.

Similar legislation failed in 2023. Bill supporters are confident concerns expressed then have since been resolved.