Guns, drugs on Bebo's dark side

By Patrick Gower

New Zealand teenagers use their Bebo sites to boast about their "wannabe" street gangs, abuse the police and show off their guns and drugs.

The website helped police hunting the killer of Augustine Borrell and has provided a forum for his friends to pay tribute to his life.

But a series of clicks through a wide network of Auckland teenagers reveals many of their Bebo pages are firmly linked to a Los Angeles-style "gangsta" culture.

This may be as innocent as the page's wallpaper being a favourite rap star like Snoop Dogg, or "shout-outs" to their fellow "ABC" gangs or "crews".

But there are also photos of teenagers toting guns, or of bags of Ecstasy and P.

Many display photos of wall-sized tagging they have done around the city.

Tributes to Augustine Borrell spraypainted on fences and walls with groups of uniformed Grammar students standing in front are also on the site.

One Auckland teenager even has a security camera picture of him robbing a liquor store taken from the Herald's Crimescene column - with his friends posting applause. The photo has been on Bebo for a year and police this week confirmed the offender had never been caught.

Messages calling for jailed friends to be freed are popular, as are "RIP" postings for the dead.

The Weekend Herald revealed last month that one South Auckland gang had smuggled cellphones into prison and sent photos of themselves out to be posted on Bebo. Other gang members posted pictures of themselves with Helen Clark, titled "Cripn' Clark".

Police youth specialists are aware of the gang culture on Bebo, using it for intelligence and profiling.

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