Being in a street gang is now forbidden for members of the U.S. armed forces. But you might not guess that if you were to visit U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to soldiers who have recently served there.
Jeffrey Stoleson, a Wisconsin corrections official, returned from Iraq in January with photos of gang graffiti on armored vehicles, latrines and buildings. Stoleson, a sergeant with a National Guard unit, was there for nine months to help the Army set up a prison facility outside Baghdad.
“I saw Maniac Latin Disciples graffiti out of Chicago,” Stoleson said, adding that there was a lot of graffiti for Texas and California gangs, as well as Mexican drug cartels.
A Chicago Police officer — who retired from the regular Army and was recently on a tour of Afghanistan in the Army Reserve — said Bagram Air Base was covered with Chicago gang graffiti, everything from the Gangster Disciples’ pitchfork to the Latin Kings’ crown.
“It seems bigger now,” said the officer, who previously served a tour in Iraq, where he also saw gang graffiti.