Atlanta street gangs emerged in the 1980s as drug-driven organizations that operated from, and mostly within, the city's two dozen housing projects. As those projects were razed and their residents dispersed throughout the city, gangs were robbed of the territories and neighborhood ties that gave them staying power.
Since the disbandment of the projects, two street gangs in particular—the International Robbing Crew, one of the more violent in Atlanta's history, and 30 Deep, currently one of the city's most criminally prolific—have come to prove that Atlanta gangs are now different creatures: Loosely organized factions of criminals claiming no specific turf, with a penchant for robbery and a propensity toward occasional—and extreme—violence.
At its most active, IRC embarked on a killing spree that Atlanta police attribute to a 20 percent spike in the city's homicide rate in 2007.
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