MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Shelby County is waging war against graffiti, as the Metro Gang Unit tracks down information about gangs here in the Mid-South.
"It is very informational," says Memphis Police Lt. Anthony Carter.
Carter and members of the newly-reorganized Metro Gang Unit are using graffiti as a tool to combat gangs.
"Graffiti is an underground newspaper for gangs," Carter tells abc24.com. "It tells you who is there. It tells you who is at odds with one another."
The graffiti problem isn't just in one area of town. Carter showed abc24.com a map of the Memphis metropolitan area.
"Those maps and all the crimes on there," says Carter, "and the graffiti, the underground newspapers that are out there, suggest there are gangs all over."
Carter says illegal art, or tagging, can yield a ton of clues, including which gang is in a particular area to which gangs are on the verge of fighting.
This summer, Shelby County commissioners passed a law limiting the sale of spray paint to juveniles in an effort to curb the graffiti problem.