Organized Crime, Stalking

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Stalking is a malicious course of conduct where a perpetrator approaches another with the intent to frighten another person, or should know that fear would be the result. It must be noted that this is not the same as "laying in wait".

Organized Stalking is very similar and involves multiple persons working in concert. It may have elements very similar to the operations of Private Investigation firms conducting investigations, or to legitimate law-enforcement activity.

Maryland Law on "Stalking"

Maryland. Criminal Law Code Annotated § 3-802 Stalking. 
1957. Amended 2005.

(a)    "Stalking" defined. -- In this section, "stalking" means 
a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or 
pursuing another where the person intends to place or knows or 
reasonably should have known the conduct would place another 
in reasonable fear:

    1.    (i) of serious bodily injury      

                (ii) of an assault in any degree

(iii) of rape or sexual offense as defined by §§ 3-303 through 3-308 
of this article or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree;

                (iv) of false imprisonment; or

                (v) of death; or

    2. that a third person likely will suffer any of the acts 
    listed in item (1) of this subsection .

(b)    Prohibited. -- The provisions of this section 
do not apply to conduct that is :

   (1)    performed to ensure compliance with a court order

   (2)    performed to carry out a specific lawful 
   commercial purpose; or

   (3)    authorized, required, or protected by local, 
   State, or federal law .

(c)  Applicability.-- A person may not engage in stalking.

(d)   Penalty. -- A person who violates this section is guilty of 
a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment
not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding $ 5,000 or both.

(e)   Sentence. -- A sentence imposed under this section 
may be separate from and consecutive to or concurrent with 
a sentence for any other crime based on the acts 
establishing a violation of this section.

Stalking as Organized Crime

Maryland law does not seem to make any distinction between Stalking as performed by an individual, and Stalking as orchestrated by more than one individual, or by a group.

See also the 2004 Bounty Hunters Rampage section of our crime problems entry.

Types of Organized Stalking

Organized stalking generally does not have any legitimate or legal law-enforcement goal. It is usually the activity of a group of misguided citizens acting on a mistaken understanding of law or of concepts of civic duty. The techniques are believed to have originated with the Ku Klux Klan and to have spread elsewhere to other extremists who have refined techniques and spread them yet again.

Organized stalking may also be the result of malicious manipulation of public or private opinion, by a range of instigators too large to be fully enumerated.

Potential Rationales of Organized Stalking

Potential instigators might be:

  • participants in a bitter divorce
  • siblings contesting for position in Probate proceedings
  • criminals seeking to turn public opinion against rivals
  • religious groups acting against "unbelievers"
  • racial hatred organizations such as the KKK or Black Panthers
  • businesses competing with rivals
  • politicians suppressing rivals or critics
  • police or government (national or extranational) intelligence operations outside of authorization
  • corporate (or governmental agency) internal security groups gone out-of-bounds
  • persons sharing delusional systems
  • gangs choosing victims or researching members of rival gangs
  • victims of criminal activity not easily prosecuted, i.e., by "con men"
  • "con men" gathering information on intended victims
  • out-of-control Bounty Hunters
  • etc., etc., etc.

Operational Techniques of Organized Stalking

See also Wikipedia's articles on "Tradecraft". For the political context of Organized Stalking, please see the entry on "Astroturfing".

Depending on the competence -- organizational, technical, or personnel -- of those involved, organized stalking can escalate into terrifying dimensions, all the more so terrifying as Organized Stalking groups are easily absorbed by larger groups with different aims, mostly seeking the personal information collected about victims. For example, an organized stalking group pursuant to a contested divorce might be absorbed (perhaps violently) by a group pursuing a business or criminal rivalry. Any of the above might be absorbed and/or controlled from afar by religious groups or police/intelligence operations.

Various sources claim, with widely varied degrees of credibility or lack thereof, that almost all Organized Stalking activity outside of criminal burglary operations is known to, and supervised by, one or another tier of law-enforcement. Depending on the locale, this might potentially involve elements of counterintelligence organizations from the international to the local level.

A widely circulated belief, which is not easily either verified nor disproven, contends that various agencies circulate lists of "cop wannabees" and "local vigilantes" within and between their own organizations. Such rosters might arguably be compiled from lists of persons attending various meetings organized around community causes such as various types of crime problems. Depending on the themes of such causes, it might be easy to attract and recruit varying degrees of fanatics with varying degrees of reliability or competence.

Such recruits might make excellent stooges, fall-guys, or even low-level organizational personnel. In any case, if indeed attached to any national-level or transnational-corporate organization, such associations would of course be maintained in such a way as to be plausibly deniable.

"Fake Cops"

Local law enforcement has a very effective and legitimate approach to dealing with localized crime problems. This is "PCAT" or "Police Community Action Teams" programs, in which officers from other areas are given significant opportunities to accrue overtime hours, by concentrating forces in one or a few beats. This effectively floods the streets with both uniformed and plainclothes officers.

Some Organized Stalking groups are well aware of this, and they will occasionally flood an area with their own staff during, or more commonly immediately after, periods of PCAT activity. They can expect cooperation from grateful shopkeepers, mall security, and other property-management types who are allowed to believe that these individuals are operating under, or personally possess, police authority. It's possible that some persons affiliated with such organizations are in fact police officers, or more likely were at one time police officers. Yet the vast majority of these "Fake Cops" are in fact fake cops. Quite frequently they work with, or are part of, "security gangs".

"Security Gangs"

Some commercial facilities such as shopping centers or office campuses may be unable or unwilling to afford the level of security available through legitimate private security services. Some such may be approached by organizations offering their services to "help clean up the place". These organizations are, effectively, unlicensed security officers and also often operate as private investigators with no permits. Or, they may possess permits or licenses which do not apply to this sort of work. For example, Bounty Hunters are in fact law-enforcement and may have special permits... which do not apply to any duties outside of seeking bail jumpers. Yet neither the property managers nor the people "apprehended" (usually beaten, intimidated, or frightened away, instead) by these individuals or groups are quite cognizant of the fact that these persons have no legitimate special authority nor license in these places and situations.

Enablers

Certain specific shopkeepers or property-management people are quite cooperative with either "fake cops" or "security gangs". To such groups, such enablers are golden. In the rare case that the "fake cops" or "security gang" operatives feel that they are at risk and choose to hide their presence rather than risk the exposure of their operations, such shopkeepers or comparable staffers can act as eyes and ears for the fake cops and/or security gangs. Indeed, given enough time in place, and they may come to manage them, if not in exactly a capacity of being a management-level employee of a corporation or company. Yet they can direct the operations of such organizations, in effect, picking victims.

See also the entry on the so-called Convenience Store Mafia.

Appropriate Responses to Organized Stalking

There is no appropriate response to inappropriate and illegal activity, except those recourses which remain to you within the laws of your jurisdiction.

As a rule, however, organized stalking is effectively self-limiting. See also the speed with which East Germany collapsed utterly when law-enforcement and military authority supporting their "snitch society" was removed from power. To this day, no East German trusts another, and nobody else in the world trusts them. Almost nobody in the world, other than the West Germans who by default had to absorb their economy, will do business with any East German of an age to have participated in the "snitch society". To this day, the mainstream Germans keep such people employed only in menial positions and allow them no access to valuable information, or the neighborhoods or society of their employers and betters.

Imaginative students of this phenomenon will realize that attempting to move away from an Organized Stalking is likely to be fruitless without taking exceptionally expensive measures while departing the scene.

Aspen Hill Stalking

Origins

There have always been some stalking-like activities ongoing in Aspen Hill, at least since the early 1970s.

During the 1970s, large numbers of teenagers were present, as part of the "Baby Boom". Many of these teens gathered in wandering unsupervised groups. Many of the members of these groups went on to lead lives generally considered less-than-exemplary, and of these, quite a few died young. Many more of these engaged in petty crimes which often were not reported to police, but were rather "handled" within the community. Sleuthing out a likely suspect is not that hard to do, especially when someone offers an alibi which multiple witnesses can deny. That such "court" was far outside of being duly-constituted did not decrease its effectiveness in certain cases. Yet a very bad precedent was set when people started taking notes on the particulars of other peoples' whereabouts. It got even worse when certain people came to realize the power of presenting falsifications or exaggerations in a unified front.

Animal Rights Activism

Origins

In the early 1980s, the case of the Silver Spring Monkeys erupted into the media and a court fight that took most of a decade raged into the early 1990s.

In 1988, the animal-rights activism group "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals" ("PETA") assumed management of the Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery. While PETA is not exactly noted for violence, there is a rather bizarre and global chain of linkages between present and past members of PETA and a variety of organizations which are definitely associated with violence, such as the "Animal Liberation Front" ("ALF") and perhaps even the so-called "Earth Liberation Front" ("ELF").

According to Britain's David Martosko, spokesman for the Centre for Consumer Freedom, a new pressure group formed by fast food chains and pharmaceutical companies, designed to combat the rise of militant activists, "[d]angerous activists are moving freely between these groups, money is changing hands and the threat is escalating".

Activity

As of late 2008, there is no known activity by Animal Rights activists specifically organized around Aspen Hill.

From 1988 to 1996, PETA had control of the the grounds and several buildings at the Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, which is located very centrally in Aspen Hill, across Aspen Hill Road from the Northgate Plaza Shopping Center, across Georgia Avenue from the Aspen Manor Shopping Center, and next door to Saint Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church and the Harmony Hills neighborhood, and a mere stone's throw from the Aspen Hill Shopping Center. With such a central location, and one so easily observed from so many vantage points, PETA's "safe house" at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery might very well have been the object of many surveillance or harassment operations, or an origin of the same.

On 1996, the property fell under the management of Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. and conditions there generally deteriorated along with the property.

A certain amount of multi-person organized surveillance did occur in this timeframe, mostly members of neighborhood activist groups and the local Civic Association seeking to document massive violations of Montgomery County Code on acceptable land and property use.

Anti Group Home Activism

During the 1950s, radical advances in pharmacology vastly improved treatments for entire classes of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, and later for depressive-axis disorders. By the 1970s, legal action pursuing individual rights to freedom under the 14th Amendment required the several States to release the vast majority of people legally committed to mental hospitals for non-criminal reasons. While such persons remained under the legal jurisdiction of the State, the legal decisions required that such supervision be as non-intrusive as possible.

Effectively, the State could interfere with the freedom of action of mentally ill people only so long as they were symptomatic enough to meet the standards for committment.

Discrimination against the mentally-ill, or against those perceived or believed to be mentally-ill, is as old as religious intolerance, and arguably the two phenomena have common roots.

When Montgomery County went forward with a program of establishing "group homes" in suburban settings, a variety of groups opposed such programs. While generally representing themselves to the press as objecting to departures from the Master Plan's zoning policies, private conversations with many of the activists in such programs indicated that their primary goals were best summarized as "we don't want crazies in our neighborhoods".

Unable to block the County from purchasing (or licensing) group homes for outpatients such as addicts-in-recovery or bipolar disorder patients on lifetime care, these "anti-group-home" activist groups settled on a policy. If they couldn't stop the County from putting group homes in their neighborhoods, they could make it unendurable for the intended residents to live there.

Harassment of Disabled

Illegal Invasions of Medical Privacy

Nationally, widespread invasion of privacy on a casual basis had become so commonplace that Congress enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. On April 14, 2003, all covered entities must be in compliance.

Laws against illegally obtaining and distributing private patient information, however, are no more effective against determined individuals or groups, than are laws against burglary of private homes. Don't depend on compliance with the law; depend on strong locks.

It is almost certain that there is at least one individual operating in the Aspen Hill area who does or did illegally distribute private medical information about protected individuals to individuals or groups unauthorized to access such information.

Selection of Targets

It is not certain, but it appears, the illegally-obtained private medical records are circulated within a sort of "council" who then decide, based on the particulars of the records, whether or not the individual should be merely monitored, or more deeply investigated, or potentially driven out.

It seems fairly certain that "allowable mental disorders" include certain levels of mental retardation, autism, mild depression, etc. Schizophrenia and certain other psychoses seem to be tolerated depending on the individual. Strangely enough, the people making decisions certainly impacting the mental health of victims -- and possibly having life-and-death impacts -- don't seem to have any problems with considering various levels of sociopathy to be "allowable". It's really not too much of a surprise, though, considering that stealing people's medical records and then organizing to harass people out of a neighborhood all fall squarely within generally-accepted characteristics indicative of sociopathic, antisocial, or borderline personality disorders. One may reasonably assume that this hypothetical "council" likes to leave people in circulation who have the so-called "jailhouse personality disorders", as potential talent to be recruited as the need may arise.

Anti-Militia Militia

Origins

After the April 19, 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah building, public outrage was fed by media sensationalism directing anger at the so-called "militia movement".

Almost nobody in the mainstream branches of the militia movement supported such acts of senseless terrorism. However, closely-related and nearly-contemporaneous events -- such as the incident at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and the Waco Siege of the Branch Davidian ranch -- both radicalized the mainstream of the militia movement and heightened public apprehensions.

This happened concurrently with a push by groups fundamentally opposed to the Second Amendment of the Constitution, to ban all handguns and eliminate all long arms for purposes other than hunting. Maryland has tended to have extremely restrictive laws regarding handguns and many types of long arms.

The political home grounds of the so-called "gun grabbers" movement is in Montgomery County, and as a political propaganda strategy, groups and individuals opposing the Second Amendment actively fanned fears of "militias". The ideological basis for this was in the well-publicized tendency of militia members to stockpile arms pursuant to the specific wording of the Second Amendment's so-called "militia clause".

The so-called "gun grabbers" had long pursued the argument that there were no legitimate militias other than the National Guard and police forces subsidiary to State and Local government executive branches, and in Maryland, the Maryland Constitution's specific wording tends to lend support to this theory, even though the wording of the Maryland Constitution is countermanded and superseded by the Constitution of the United States as amended.

The argument was, further, that nobody except the militia has the right to keep or bear arms, and there is no militia other than the Guard and police. Thus, they argued, nobody else had any right to keep or bear arms and thus should be disarmed. Media sensationalism, representing all militia members as gun-crazed revolutionaries and bomb-driving anarchists, combined with the propaganda of the gun-grabbers, leading to the formation of Maryland's largest militia, the anti-militia militia.

Like most so-called "cause stalking" groups, the anti-militia militia operated under the principles of Leaderless Resistance.

A recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States has rendered all of these arguments moot, as the right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the US Constitution as an individual right, not in any way dependent on eligibility or enrollment in any State militia.

Bounty Hunters Gone Wild

Bounty Hunters, when operating within the law and towards the intended and legal goals of their profession, are definitely engaged in Organized Stalking. It's their profession. Yet there have been cases -- right here in Aspen Hill -- where a lack of regulatory oversight combined with a lack of professionalism and self-restraint to get doors kicked in at the homes of innocent third-parties who also got robbed.

Activity

Please see Bounty Hunters' Rampage.

Convenience Store Mafia

The so-called "Convenience Store Mafia" is so pervasive as to be nearly ubiquitous in the local retail sector.

Origins

The origins of the Convenience Store Mafia are clouded in mystery, perhaps primarily due to the equally unknown foreign origins of the vast majority of its members.

For the Korean Shopkeepers, it's well known that there are so-called "keh" or "loan clubs", often with a powerful organizer known as the "keh-ju". It is almost commonplace for a number of people to pool together fairly large sums of money to open a storefront and run it at a complete loss in order to drive competing businesses into relocation or bankruptcy. Often, organized crime outfits will use such "loan clubs" to launder the proceeds of crime, often from nearby establishments which might be licensed as nail-salons but which are mere fronts for brothels.

All able-bodied adult male Korean nationals have been through mandatory military service in their country, and the Korean military is very highly regarded for its organization and training, especially in terms of insurgency and counterintelligence. Yet, for many Koreans, both the English language and the bewildering variety of American subcultures have proven to be baffling obstacles to integration into the mainstream society, and people who are isolated tend to become paranoid. Due to the pervasive local crime problem, many Korean shopkeepers have been assaulted and waylaid, and also have very high levels of shoplifting in their stores. This tends to add, justifiably, to the paranoia.

The same problems faced by the Korean Shopkeepers are faced by other retailers, especially in gas stations and convenience stores. There has been a consistent problem with culture conflict between various foreign cultural responses to real-or-imagined criminal activity on the part of customers, and the American legal system.

Many of these foreign shopkeepers, Korean, Chinese, African, Middle-Eastern, seem to have arrived at the conclusion that local police are ineffectual at best, and that the US courts and legal system are hopelessly lenient on criminals, which latter opinion is unofficially shared by a great many police officers in the US. So, the foreign shopkeepers organized a system of reporting customers who were criminal, or just "uppity", and tended to hire their own security personnel. Frequently, it seems, this "informal measures" security system mostly consists of each others relatives or friends of friends, and occasionally "local talent" from various street gangs.

Activity

It's impossible to detail the depth, breadth, and scope of the activities of the Convenience Store Mafia. Yet one reasonably presumes that they themselves consider their dominion to be as complete as it needs to be, simply because of all the long years that none of them have been willing to involve themselves in any official and duly-constituted Chamber of Commerce, or in activities officially sponsored by the Department of Police which are aimed at improving police/merchant cooperation.

The best way to detect direct involvement of the "CSM" ("convenience store mafia") is to criticize them, or attempt to appeal to police authority or legal procedure when clearly victimized by policies or activity of the CSM. This is, of course, in perfect keeping with the Authoritarianism of the societies from which most of our foreign shopkeepers originated.

The best countermeasures are, obviously, taking your business elsewhere. However, this is seen as a direct challenge to Authoritarianism, and the operatives and agents of the Convenience Store Mafia will do a little Organized Stalking toward the end of discovering where you took your business, and then they'll go there and "badmouth" the victims in order to drive the victim back to shopping where they don't want to shop, and buying from people who don't want them as customers. This is so convolutedly and typically Asian that most people never are able to grasp the idea that this might simply be "their way". However, if you discuss this sort of thing with anyone who was a POW of the Communists during the Korean War, they are likely to tell you that the brainwashers invariably took this sort of course of action. Remember, they may not want you as their customer... but they insist that you look to them for instruction and directions.

Gangs

Please see Gangs in Aspen Hill.

Organized stalking of victims is one of the primary definitions of a "gang".

Sexual Offenders

Origins

Sexual offenses arouse some of the greatest concerns within the community.

In particular, there is a common belief that sexual predators on minors and children are the class of criminals most likely to offend again, and this belief is supported by a great deal of research. Please see the "Recidivism" section of the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics "Criminal Offender Statistics". The important information:

  1. Sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense –– 43 percent of sex offenders versus 68 percent of non-sex offenders.
  2. Sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison –– 5.3 percent of sex offenders versus 1.3 percent of non-sex offenders.

Prior to the establishment of "neighborhood notification laws", it was commonplace for the families of victims, or the victims themselves, to dedicate a part of their lives tracking offenders.

In the modern day, in Maryland, the office of Sex Offender Compliance and Enforcement in Maryland ("SOCEM") performs this function.

Activity

There is a very fine line between "responsible notification" and whipping up a frenzied mob.

Before the enactment of Maryland's notification laws, there were groups of people who tracked the releases of convicted sex-offenders, appeared before the residents of neighborhoods where the sex-offenders were to be housed, and through a variety of types of presentations, informed these residents of the identity and offenses of their new neighbors.

Please be advised that in the present day, there is exactly one legitimate source of such notifications, and that is the State of Maryland Sex Offender Registry. According to a pamphlet distributed from the Montgomery County Police, you can call 1-866-559-2017 to have your phone number added to a list of people requesting notification calls when an offender moves into the area. You can also call for more information from the Sex Offender Registry, at 240-773-5445. The main number for the Sex Offender Registry is 240-773-5400.

It seems that there is still a problem with new residents being contacted by people who are not in any legitimate way associated with the Montgomery County Department of Police -- or the Sheriff's office, nor the courts, nor with the State Department of Corrections -- who pretty much walk them around the neighborhood and declare that "a sex offender lives there". If you are contacted by such people, and they give you such information, be absolutely certain to verify that information against the official SOCEM State Sex Offender Registry website... or you may have been tricked by a group of organized stalkers into harassing their target.

Spies

Origins

Due to the proximity to Washington DC, and the local presence of Vitro, a defense contractor which was at one time the largest civilian employer in Montgomery County, it was inevitable that foreign intelligence agencies would choose Aspen Hill as one of their operational venues. (Mitrokhin, Vasiliy, "Mitrokhin Archive"; Lillard, Stewart, "Aspen Hill Maryland: a Brief History, downloaded 2008 May 26, including by reference "The Sword and the Shield: the Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB", N.Y.: Basic Books, 1999, pp. 186-189.).

In Aspen Hill, the former A&P grocery store in the Northgate Plaza Shopping Center was one of the rendezvous points where operatives exchanged information, and passed instructions to (or received information from) their informants in the community. In the modern day, that spot is a walkway adjacent to the Aspen Hill Wine and Beer.

It is widely understood that the dumpsters in the vicinity of this walkway remain, to this day, a Dead-Drop paradise.

Activity

There is little doubt that in the Aspen Hill area almost any Video Keno parlors, which are effectively loitering areas where gamblers may sit to wait for results of their latest lottery venture, are frequently used to pass information between operatives of organization or organizations unknown. The beer and wine store located at Leisure World was a glaring hotbed of international and stalker-gang operations during the spring and summer of 2008, with infiltrations extending deep into the adjacent Giant Food store, and probably into other nearby stores as well.

In 2009, as of June, comparable activity is beginning once again. Particularly glaring are the infiltrations into the Giant Food store at Leisure World. Selected targets are tracked by individuals representing themselves as agents of the local government. They seem to be seeking out impressionable or superstitious locals, usually of the black local subculture sporting Jamaican "rastafarian" fashion, who are known to use immense amounts of cannibis to achieve mystical experiences. The agents apparently prey upon the superstitions and drugged-up credulousness of the intended dupes, who pass slander and gather information, and not incidentally involving eveyone they can in the crime of Stalking... and turning them into a network of foreign-controlled traitorous snitches ratting out their fellow Americans to a network believed to have been activated by a recent 4-day marathon speech by Hugo Chavez, which speech is widely interpreted in the US intelligence community as "the biggest one-time pad ever".

As of summer 2011, investigations should focus on or near the Montgomery County Alcoholic Beverage distribution center in Leisure World Plaza, generally known as "the liquor store". They seem to have had an at-least peripheral involvement in "something going on" since at least 1995. A bit of advice: the whole idea of witness intimidation is one they seem to deeply support.

The "Old Men from Out of Town"

It was during this episode centered on Leisure World, but ranging as far north as Olney and environs, and as far south as the District, that the phenomenon of the so-called "Old Men from Out of Town" was first observed locally. Yet anecdotal information indicates that this may have been a nationwide phenomenon. According to David Lawson, a private investigator who has researched the "organized stalking" phenomenon for over a decade, The goal of these groups is to harass the targets until they leave town. Many targets do not realize that the groups operate as a national network. Nationally, during the timeframe of about spring 2007 to end of summer in 2008, it seems that the police forces of a rather widespread number of small towns took up a policy unprecedented since the days of the "Freedom Riders": upon encountering any newcomer to town sporting a white beard and longish gray hair, told the newcomer that they'd be leaving town, or visiting a barber shop to emerge shorthaired and shaven, immediately. These would be "the Old Men from Out of Town", and they invariably arrived declaring a mission, and offering their services -- including provision of obscure weapons -- and thus came to the attention of the local constabulary. When run out of one town, they'd simply head for the next town... where the local police would be waiting for them. [See David Lawson's book "Cause Stalking" ISBN-13: 978-0-97-3-92-3-5, www.cause.stalking.net].

Some contend that these were a re-deployment of some foreign nation's operatives to the US after years of quietude. Others are less than convinced, and believe that this may have been an extremely rare event, a migration and re-grouping of the leadership of the so-called "national network of cause-stalking gangs". One can only hope that they would migrate, and re-group, after disruption of their follower groups as domestic terrorism operations. One can only hope that their attempts to re-group would be anticipated, deeply studied, and very well and widely documented.

Why the fixation on hairstyle? Simply stated, any man wearing a beard is a man hiding something... to begin with, his face. Every police officer instinctively knows this. Furthermore, the reporting circulating regarding the "Old Men from Out of Town" generally stated that people who had never seen each other before, generally one or a few locals, and outsiders, seemed to recognize each other exclusively by the commonality of styles of their beards and related hairstyle or grooming specifics. Local men with fat beards affiliated with newcomer men with fat beards. Local shoulderless goatee boys affiliated with newcomer shoulderless goatee boys. Evidently, nationwide, the record showed that the wearing of the facial hair was a flag, put out to welcome people who ought not to be welcomed as newcomers to any decent town with people that cared about the American way of law-abiding (or at least, non-troublesome) life.

Experience showed that if you let the "Old Men from Out of Town" hook up with the old bearded locals, people started vanishing or turning up dead, destitute, or otherwise ruined. The clear solution? Make it impossible for the out-of-town interlopers and the local suspects to recognize each other. Enforce a shave and a haircut. And do it now. But watch out for the guy in the barbershop who will make the introductions that a beard no longer can.

Northgate Plaza

Interesting interactions have been observed in the vicinity of Northgate Plaza, notably in the phenomenon of various persons in various locations setting themselves up as the trusted arbiters of useful information.

At one point in time, the Quizno's in the Northgate Plaza Shopping Center had evidently become a fairly major hotspot of drug dealing, but a bathroom frequently trafficked as a dead-drop with money left by one "customer" and with drugs picked up another "customer" will as easily suffice as a dead-drop for information or instructions.

Quizno's became aware of the problem and dealt with it by replacing the franchise owner.

The Aspen Hill Barber Shop arguably might as well be re-named "the local news stand" but any barbershop is a hotbed of gossip and there are no known reasons to associate this one with foreign intelligence operations originating in any nations capable of being an actual threat to the United States.

The Aspen Hill Wine and Beer, on the other hand, probably deserves its very own stalker gang... one that reports through proper channels to the appropriate Federal agencies. On at least three out of three instances over an 18-month timeframe, staff in this place not only went to "special weapons and tactics" far outside the playbook of the average citizen or cop, but it was also able to have no less than 6 individuals answering the description of "Old Men from Out of Town" on the spot declaring "code blue" on multiple comm channels within six minutes... about the time it takes to run code-six from the District 4 police station. Considering they approached from the south along Georgia Avenue, that means that either the County Department of Police is providing cover and security for a probable foreign-intel watering hole... or the Old Men from Out of Town have an "ops shack" within spitting distance of the Wheaton Glenmont police station. Inquiring minds want to know which is the case.

Relationship to the "Gang Stalking" Internet Phenomenon

It is difficult to estimate the psychological impact of community-based harassment or "organized stalking" on persons who are already mentally ill. One suspects that it could be rather profound. A variety of people have spent years of their lives trying to increase public awareness of a phenomenon generally called "gang stalking", "cause stalking", "organized stalking", "workplace mobbing" or "community bullying".

Sadly, there are both such groups and such victims, and one sees a sort of feedback loop emerging, via the medium of InterNet. The victims let their stalkers know how successfully they have terrorized, and generally the stalkers tend to refine their techniques and increase the level of pressure.

Internet "Gang Stalking" Phenomenon Critiqued

It's clear that there is, at best, a very fuzzy boundary between what one mentally-ill person with fairly high levels of function might imagine, and what a group of wicked people acting antisocially -- or criminally -- might do.

Example 1: "Stealing People's Mail"

A person might imagine that someone is stealing their mail, reading it, re-sealing the envelopes, and returning the mail whence it was stolen. This is, of course, entirely possible. Depending both on the person, and the perceptions or expectations of that person by other parties, it may even be likely. A fundamental distinction to be made would be whether or not anyone is warranted to do such things. In the case of legitimate and ongoing investigations authorized by court orders (or PATRIOT ACT provisions), people having their mail stolen is something that is both expected and real.

A real problem for outsiders is distinguishing between people whose mail is stolen pursuant to a warrant, and people whose mail is stolen entirely outside of legal sanction. Further, there are the people who only believe, with little or no truth to the belief, that people are stealing their mail. But what of people whose mail really does get stolen, whether legally or otherwise, mostly because they let someone know that they thought their mail was being stolen?

Example 2: "Rousting the Freaks"

A group of counterculture types might rent a house in a neighborhood. Quite possibly they are drinking beer, smoking marijuana, and staying up all night drinking coffee and discussing politics. They dress oddly and have hairstyles that differ from most of their neighbors.

The neighbors suspect all of the above, and surreptitiously establish surveillance on their new neighbors. Names are collected, and in extreme cases, credit checks may be run. License plates are recorded, as are schedules. Interestingly, under Maryland law, as long as the counterculture types aren't aware and fearful of this activity, this does not rise to the definition of "Stalking", unless the activity clearly should scare them, were they to become aware of it... and if someone else reports it to the authorities.

The neighbors would probably -- one or the other of them -- try to break into the house, or use a pretext to get someone else to let them into the house, but since the counterculture types are all part-time or full-time students, there is almost always someone home and awake. So, the neighbors have to focus their investigation on whatever may occur outside the residence.

Example 3: "Rousting the Mundanes"

A group of drug-dealers is rousted from their favorite open-air drug market corner, and they choose a new location, and send their customers there. However, an upstanding citizen notices that all of a sudden there are strange people hanging out at the corner down the street, with no particular reason to be doing so. Cars come and go, and the hangers-out keep dialing their cellphones. Clearly this must be watched.

The curious citizen grabs their binoculars and starts observing. They might even tend to just grab their video camera and start filming, or merely use the device for the handy zoom lens. They might find it a little difficult to see very well because the sun is in their eyes.

The drug-dealers see the sunlight glinting off of the lens of the binoculars or camera, and decide that they might want to start harassing the person they view as a threat to their operation.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the curious citizen doesn't recognize the emergence of an open-air drug market for what it is. And equally unfortunately, they get on the InterNet and research "stalking" in the context of gangs. They wind up at the Gang Stalking Homepage and their original predisposition to paranoia is amplified as they start to read.

They are being gang-stalked! But why?

Ambiguity and Multiple Interpretations Run Amok

In Example 3, the original stalking, as it were, was done by a curious citizen who notices something unusual. Yet you can bet that if the dealers get the idea that she's trying to collect evidence about their activity, those dealers are going to do their best to make her life miserable. Though this woman will doubtless be followed, watched, and even harassed en-route to and from work or shopping, this has nothing to do with secretive and shadowy networks of leftover administrators of formerly communist police states... this has to do with a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread. She's managed to worry a street-dealing drug distribution network.

In Example 2, intolerance combines with curiousity and suspicion leading to at least a significant portion of a neighborhood going nearly, but not quite, to criminal extremes. This is the sort of situation where everything is likely to come out in the wash, as they say, when one of the Emos throws out an old can of paint-thinner halfway through an art-school homework project, and one of the snoopy neighbors calls in the DEA under suspicion that the Emos are running a meth lab. Hey, the InterNet says that's what counterculture types do with paint-thinner.

In Example 1, stealing people's mail without a warrant is a Federal offense that can land people in jail for many years. Of course, if you can just chat up the mailman and convince them that they're helping to save the neighborhood if only they'll tell you if your target gets any interesting mail, you don't have to steal the information on the inside of the envelope, only that which is on the outside of the envelope, specifically the Return Address. You can just stalk the person or outfit sending the mail, and get a better picture of your target this way.

I don't recommend this, of course. Any astute employee of the US Postal Service will cheerfully agree with you and report you to their supervisor, who is supposed to report it to the office of the Postal Inspector, which has the highest conviction rate of any Federal prosecutor. However, stolen mail is an exceptional source of information about people. If you're one of the anti-group-home activists trying to "keep those crazies out of the neighborhood", you could steal someone's mail and strike a gold mine of information about the location of the doctor's office. Presumably you could bribe someone on the janitorial staff to let you burglarize the doctor's records. Then you could photocopy those records and share them with your fellow anti-group-home activists, or fellow drug-dealers, or fellow spies or fellow renegade cops running far outside of bounds... whatever. You get the picture. Really! You should try it. I hear all of the local mailmen are suckers looking for a bribe. Go for it. You'll get what you deserve, about twenty years at the minimum.

Politics, Racism and/or Religious Intolerance

Political/Racial

One perfect example -- of extremism bordering on Organized Stalking in Aspen Hill -- is summarized by the statement of one Gustavo Torres, at the time a resident of Aspen Hill, and an activist in a large and well-known organization, CASA of Maryland, that advocates for Central Americans who are present (legally or otherwise) in the region:

"We are going to target the Minuteman in a specific way... we are going picket their houses, and the schools of their kids, and go to their work. If they are going to do this to us, we are going to respond in the same way, to let people know their neighbors are extremists, that they are anti-immigrant. They are going to hear from us." ("Minuteman responds to Casa of Maryland", Montgomery Gazette, Schreiman, Stephen, "Letters to Editor", March 1, 2006, downloaded 2008 November 28.)

Please note that picketing is one thing. Stalking people's children is an entirely different thing, especially when the intent is clearly to intimidate the parents of those children. Stalking the parents to their place of employment is clearly at the edge of violation of Maryland law. The difference between picketing and stalking is that, depending on the method, picketing is an open and confrontational exercise of constitutionally-protected freedom of expression. Stalking is the act of skulking criminals.

Political/Religious

In nearby Randolph Hills, during the Reagan Administration, there was a clinic which performed abortions. Religious groups picketed the facility daily, though generally without serious incident. One night, however, the facility was bombed, and this resulted in a Federal investigation. It was later determined that the protest organizers and members of their group -- "Army of God" -- had organized stalking of clinic personnel ("Lay Minister Convicted In Attacks on Clinics", AP, New York Times, May 22, 1985; See also "Very Special Agents", Moore, Jim, University of Illinois Press, 2001 ISBN 0252070259).