SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City-area anti-gang unit’s director says gang-related violence is up but that he’s most concerned that gang members are increasingly younger and more violent.

Lt. Mike Shoenfeld of the Salt Lake Area Gang Project says “horrific and heinous” crimes committed by gang members during 2017 are very disturbing, particularly because of the increase in violence.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a database compiled by the newspaper shows at least eight deaths in 2017 were related to gangs, up from three in 2016.

Shoenfeld said law enforcement seeing more violent assaults and he and other officials report that gangs are increasingly recruiting younger children.

Steps seen as parts of the solution to Utah’s gang problem include more aggressive policing and preventative efforts such as anti-gang after-school programs.

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