The Gangfighters Network is an organization designed to bridge the gap between academia and the criminal justice professions. For more information, visit and The focus is on gangs, initially adult gangs as it appears they have been ignored or absorbed into the mainstream society. There's a special focus on gang members in the military.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oklahoma City war veteran accused of selling bombs to gang members


Published: December 25, 2008

Police spent the day searching the house of a decorated, two-tour Iraq war veteran on Tuesday to investigate a tip that the former soldier was said to have been making explosive devices to sell to gang members, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Steven Andrew Jordal

Steven Andrew Jordal, 24, was an infantry tank specialist in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2007. He received the Army’s Good Conduct medal, along with several other medals, badges and ribbons, the military confirmed.

Oklahoma City police took interest in Jordal when they received a tip he was selling improvised explosive devices to criminals.

For as little as $100, Jordal was making the same kinds of weapons he saw used against his fellow soldiers in the Iraqi deserts and selling them on the streets of Okalahoma City to gang members and known criminals, according to the document.

The police informant had seen Jordal testing explosives in an area near N. Western and 122 Street and said Jordal had custom- made a device for someone who wanted to damage the vehicle of someone who owed money on a drug deal.

With that information, police located Jordal on Monday evening and found him in possession of a device he allegedly intended to sell, and also found several concealed weapons including a loaded .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun, the affidavit said.

Police said Jordal admitted to making multiple IEDs and that he had tried to sell them. He said he was selling the device police caught him with for $100, and that he knew it would be used in the very least to cause property damage.

It was during the same interview that Jordal gave consent to search his house and vehicle, where police said they expected to find more IEDs and explosive components. Police are not disclosing what if anything they found in the search of his house.

Jordal was arrested Monday on complaints of manufacturing explosives with the intent to sell them. It is unclear if he will be facing federal or state charges.

Contributing: Staff Writer Jay Marks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Seven face charges in soldier's death

Seven face charges in soldier's death
12/09/2008 07:33 AM
By: News 14 Carolina Web Staff

Pfc. Luke Brown
FORT BRAGG -- Seven Fort Bragg soldiers face manslaughter charges for the death of 27-year-old Pfc. Luke Brown, who was found dead in a car in a parking lot on the base on July 20.

Those charged are:

•Sgt. Christopher Mignocchi
•Sgt. Sgt. Kyle Saltz
•Sgt. Justin Boyle
•Spc. Ryan Sullivan
•Spc. Joseph Misuraca
•Spc. Charles Delong
•Pfc. Andrey Udalov

All are assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gangs in the Military

Updated: Nov 12, 2008 10:49 PM
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - WBTV On Your Side has obtained picture and video proof our military is being infiltrated by members of street gangs. In some cases, detectives say gang members are using the tactics learned to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan to commit crimes on the streets of America. Anchor Molly Grantham is investigating.

They serve and protect under the flag of the United States of America. They protect our freedoms, and represent our great country. Some of them are gang members.

"Gangs are on the rise in every major city in the United States," says Hunter Glass, a gang consultant. "They're on the rise in the military."

Glass is an 82nd Airborne veteran and former gang detective with Fayetteville Police Department. He left policing in 2006 and now travels the country lecturing about and investigating gang life.

"Putting these people in the military doesn't change them," says Glass. "And you're certainly not going to kick them all out. If you start kicking them out... let's just say it's one percent of the military... you're going to kick out 14,000 people? I don't think so.

"America has the greatest military in the world," he continued. "I was a soldier. My dad is a veteran. I love and respect the military. But I'm also a realist. I'm telling you, it's there. To turn a blind eye isn't going to help anything."

WBTV obtained pictures which show gang graffiti in Iraq.

Images like, a Vice Lords star sprayed on a Humvee. A picture of four men dressed in fatigues showing off rifles, posted on an 18th Street Gang website. Another picture shows a guy flashing a gang sign on a "Realize Your Potential" Army recruiting chat room. Still others capture tanks and bomb walls covered with gang tagging... even a six-pointed 360-degrees intricate gang star pictured in barracks.

But the most unbelievably eye-catching images are on Glass's computer.

He shows us home video taken years ago at a popular nightclub on Fort Bragg. You can see people on the dance floor using their hands to chant "Crips"... while across the room, Blood members are throwing down signs that mean "Crip Killers".

The video proves gang life is on this North Carolina base. A Fort Bragg spokesman doesn't deny it.

"I'm positive there are gang members in the US Army," says Tom McCollum. "There are gang members probably here on Fort Bragg also, but we do everything possible to get rid of them."

McCollum says the Army's goal is to weed out as much gang activity as possible. Whenever they do find tattoos or some kind of sign, they pull the soldier off to the side and interview them in-depth. He says the soldier in question will be watched closely by his or her command to see how elevated and active they are in a gang.

"Are gang members in the military," he says. "Yes. Is it a large problem? It's not as large of a problem as some people would like to believe."

As for actual numbers, officials said they had no way of really knowing exactly how many. Glass estimates about one percent -- which would be about 14-thousand people. He also says he thinks the military should enact solid laws to deal with the element.

"In many ways I think the military is robbing Peter to pay Paul," says Glass. "It's a quick fix. We need manpower. We get these guys in here. They're good dogs in the fight. We'll worry about it later."

Later, is now. These gang members are getting trained in the military and using their knowledge to come back and fight on American streets. While in California a month ago, we interviewed two L-A County gang investigators in south central Los Angeles. Just listen to what Detective Adan Torres told us.

"One of the biggest gangbangers around here actually has on his license plate, ‘Iraq veteran, or veteran Iraq'," he said. "He's got F-13 on the back of his head. Florencia on back. F-13 on his arms... and two purple hearts. Been on two tours of duty. He's trained than half the officers here anyway, fighting him."

That's the "gotcha" -- hearing veteran gang detectives say some gang members are purple heart recipients who are a better shot than most police.

Those detectives in California listed a couple examples of problematic gang members they see all the time, who are also American soldiers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fort Sill official fires back at gang report

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Nov 11, 2008 8:55:20 EST

LAWTON, Okla. — Fort Sill’s liaison to the city of Lawton is firing back at a police officer’s comments that soldiers at the base are involved in gangs.

Col. Robert Bridgford issued a written statement saying information released by police Lt. Darrell Southerland “was completely inaccurate.”

Southerland oversees the city’s gang task force unit and told The Oklahoman last week that he’s warned Fort Sill officials for years about a widespread gang problem.

Bridgford’s statement says no soldier has been arrested or implicated in gang activity in the past year. It also says military police have no information of soldiers being a member of a gang or being involved in gang-related activities.

Bridgford’s statement came after a closed-door meeting with Lawton Mayor John Purcell, City Manager Larry Mitchell, Police Chief Ronnie Smith and Southerland.

Related reading

Local police say Fort Sill has a gang problem (Nov. 10)

Gangs at Army installation are topic of heated debate

Gangs at Army installation are topic of heated debate
OUR VIEWS: Fort Sill

The Oklahoman Editorial
Published: November 12, 2008

ASK police in Lawton if Fort Sill has a gang problem, and the answer is a definite yes. Ask the Army, and the answer is just as definitely no. So, who to believe?

In a story Sunday, The Oklahoman’s Ron Jackson wrote about Army men who police say are also known gang members. Balderdash, the Fort Sill brass exclaimed one day later.

Jackson noted the case of Spc. Gregory Darnell King, a reservist who served with the 177th Field Artillery. In an image collected by the Lawton gang unit, King can be seen flashing a sign affiliated with a national gang that has members in Lawton. The story detailed how King has been arrested six times in the past two years by Lawton police on various complaints, including drug possession.

Jackson reported on the death of a soldier, suspected of being a member of the notorious Blood gang, who was killed in a gang-related argument outside a Lawton nightclub.

Certainly, these are just two men of thousands who serve — and do so admirably — at Fort Sill. But the case built by the Lawton police about gang-related problems linked directly to the post is pretty strong. The man who heads up the police gang task force, Lt. Darnell Southerland, said flatly, "People don’t want to face the truth, but it’s true. Fort Sill has a problem with gangs.”

The post’s leadership begs to differ. On Monday, a high-ranking officer issued a statement that said Southerland’s information was "completely inaccurate and totally outdated,” and that no soldier had been arrested or implicated in gang activity in the past year. The rebuttal was issued after a private sitdown with Southerland, the mayor, the police chief and the city manager. Southerland was ordered not to speak with the media.

In his earlier interview with our reporter, Southerland said his unit has routinely shared with post officials its evidence, gleaned from traffic stops and arrests. "But nobody wants to listen,” he said.

Clearly, they’re listening now.

We hope the reaction was designed to quell any notion that Fort Sill is rife with gang members, as opposed to trying to impugn the detective. The post isn’t overrun with gang-bangers, of course, and Southerland, a 20-year veteran of the department, never suggested as much. But he and his task force aren’t making these stories up.

We’re reminded of what Hunter Glass, an expert in the study of gangs in the military, told Jackson. His lectures "aren’t always popular. People get angry,” Glass said. "I’ve had politicians call me, generals call me ... but people have to wake up.”

The case built by the Lawton police about gang-related problems linked directly to the post is pretty strong.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friends paint different picture of Kevin Cox, suspect in the murder of Brooklyn-born Marine

Updated Monday, November 10th 2008, 4:46 PM

One of the four Marines accused of brutally murdering their Brooklyn-raised sergeant and wife was described Monday by friends as "sweet" and "caring."

They also described 20-year-old Pvt. Kevin Cox as a follower who was "very easily influenced."

"I couldn't see him doing anything like this on his own," said Maurice McDavid, 20, a college football player who grew up with Cox in DeKalb, Ill. "In high school, they put him in classes with me to make sure he was staying out of trouble."


Jamaine Armbruster, 19, a student at Cal State University in Northridge, Calif., said she dated Cox last year and was stunned when he was implicated in the murders of Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana.

"I'm totally shocked to find out Kevin had anything to do with something like this," she said. "He was a sweet guy and very caring."

Cox, who last lived in Tennessee, and three other Marines based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., were charged last week with breaking into the Pietrzak home on Oct. 15. They allegedly executed the newlyweds after torturing them and raping the bride repeatedly.

Investigators say the motive was robbery, but the victims' families don't believe it.


Pietrzak, 24, who was born in Poland and raised in Bensonhurst, and his 26-year-old wife, had been married for just two months when they were murdered.

Pvt. Emrys John, 18, was identified as the triggerman who killed the couple by shooting them in the back of their heads. "Chillin waitin 4 da killin," was the caption under a photo he posted on his MySpace web site.

Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller, 20, told investiagtors he bound and gagged the couple and then debated with John whether to kill them. Cops are checking whether Miller has ties to the violent Crips street gang.

Pvt. Kesuan Sykes, 21, is nicknamed "Psycho" and admitted that he "cut" off Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak's clothes, the court papers state.

All of the suspects say that Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak was sexually assaulted, but each says it was the other three who did it, according to court records.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lawton police say Fort Sill has a gang problem

Associated Press - November 9, 2008 7:15 PM ET

LAWTON, Okla. (AP) - Lawton police say the Fort Sill Army base is home to many soldiers who also are gang members, but base officials dispute that claim.

Lt. Darrell Southerland, a 20-year police veteran who oversees the Lawton Gang Task Force Unit, says his six-member unit has routinely gathered and shared evidence with Fort Sill officials about soldiers stationed at Fort Sill who also are gang members.

He says evidence has been obtained through traffic stops and arrests and includes photos of gang-related tattoos and information from informants.

Southerland says Fort Sill has a problem with gangs but nobody wants to listen.

Fort Sill spokesman Jon Long disagrees. He says police have not presented any evidence of a widespread gang problem involving Fort Sill soldiers to base officials.

Long says the photos and Web site images of soldiers flashing gang signs, which have collected by Lawton police, are, quote, "not proof that the person pictured is actually a gang member."

Police fear Fort Sill is home to gang woes

Lawton law enforcement say they have told military officials about their concerns

Published: November 9, 2008

Men identified by Lawton police as Fort Sill soldiers flash gang signs in a photo from a social networking Web site. PHOTO Provided by Lawton Police

LAWTON — Soldiers such as Spc. Gregory Darnell King II are emerging as a new kind of face at Fort Sill — a face police claim many high-ranking military officers won’t acknowledge, let alone talk about.

Featured Video

Lawton Gangs

Nov 8 LT. Darrell Southerland, of Lawton's Gang Task Force, talks about the gang members on Lawton's streets.

Lawton police identified King as a "known gang member.”

And police say he is one of many who are either stationed at or have passed through Fort Sill.

"People don’t want to face the truth, but it’s true,” said Lt. Darrell Southerland, a 20-year veteran who oversees Lawton’s Gang Task Force Unit. "Fort Sill has a problem with gangs. We see it every Friday and Saturday nights on the streets. But nobody wants to listen.”

Southerland thinks it’s time for Fort Sill to hear his pleas. But Fort Sill spokesman Jon Long contends: "No evidence of a widespread gang problem involving Fort Sill soldiers has been presented to Fort Sill by the LPD (Lawton Police Department) or city officials.”

In a recent interview with the post newspaper, "The Cannoneer,” Special Agent Jessica Jasper of Fort Sill’s Criminal Investigation Command said: "In the last calendar year, the CID and MPI have not worked any gang-related offenses on post. ... We’ve not been called to respond to any of those concerns.”

Southerland said his six-member unit has routinely gathered and shared evidence with post officials about gang membership among soldiers stationed at Fort Sill.

Evidence was obtained from traffic stops and arrests and includes photographs of gang-related tattoos and details from informants.

On Web sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook, local soldiers post pictures of themselves flashing gang signs.

Growing concerns

The gang unit has a binder stuffed with such photographs, images spokesman Long says "is not proof that the person pictured is actually a gang member.”

In one image, King — a reservist who served with the 177th Field Artillery — can be seen flashing a sign affiliated with the 107 Hoover Crips, a nationwide gang known to have members in Lawton.

Since 2006, King has been arrested six times by Lawton police on complaints ranging from drug possession to driving with loaded firearms. King was last arrested Sept. 25 for not paying his court fines.

Investigators list his gang affiliation as "107 Hoover” and occupation as "SPC-E4.”

"I told them about King,” Southerland said. "I was told, ‘Look, this guy is a hero. He pulled someone out of a burning Humvee in Iraq, and we’re not touching him.’ What are you gonna do?”

King could not be reached for comment.

In January, soldiers David Coleman and Ira Easterling — suspected Blood gang members stationed at Fort Sill — engaged in a deadly clash outside a Lawton nightclub with suspected civilian gang member Ronald Walker of the 107 Hoovers, Southerland said. An argument ensued. Shots were fired. Easterling died.

"The argument started with one guy disrespecting the other,” Southerland said. "Next thing you know, guns are pulled. ...”

A war within a war

Tattoo artist Rocky White, who operates a shop just beyond Fort Sill’s gates, isn’t shocked by the idea.

"Young soldiers come in here all the time asking me to do some gang-related tattoo,” White said.

"I sit them down and lecture them on the profound effect it could have on their lives and their military careers.”

Recently, White said a Marine recruiter approached him about hiding a young recruit’s swastika tattoo with an Irish clover. The combination is a symbol for the Aryan Brotherhood.

"If they are persistent, I just refuse,” White said.

"I have a real problem doing any kind of drug- or gang-related tattoos.”

Experts claim gangs in the military are nothing new, although the subject always seems to shock the senses of the general population.

Hunter Glass, a former U.S. Army soldier who specializes studying military gangs, said the problem is alarming and widespread.

"I often encounter people who express disbelief,” Glass told The Oklahoman from his North Carolina home. "And my lectures aren’t always popular. People get angry. I’ve had politicians call me, generals call me ... but people have to wake up. The military is a reflection of society. Why wouldn’t there be gang members in the military?

"The world isn’t always Norman Rockwell.”

Southerland and his gang task force members are now bracing for the thousands of soldiers who will transfer to Fort Sill with the Army Air Defense School from Fort Bliss by 2011. Police fear the transfers could ignite a turf war among military gang members.

The National Gang Intelligence Center mentioned Fort Bliss in a 2006 report, noting authorities had identified more than 40 suspected military-affiliated members of the Chicago-based Folk Nation gang on post.

"By their nature, gang members are violent and territorial,” Glass said. "I’d say the likelihood of conflict is highly probable.”

There is one more concern, perhaps the greatest of all.

"It’s a disgrace to the military,” said Clay Houseman, a gang task force member. "Our veterans didn’t fight and die in wars so these guys could join the military and terrorize our streets as members of gangs. We just can’t let that happen.”

Friday, October 31, 2008

I-Team Investigates Gangs In The Military

Response: Dept. Of Defense

10News I-Team Investigates Gangs In The Military

POSTED: 4:10 pm PDT October 30, 2008
UPDATED: 6:14 am PDT October 31, 2008

They endure grueling tests of strength, are trained to kill, and pledge their absolute loyalty."Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Mara Salvatrucha, 18th street, all the big ones are in," says Carter Smith, an Army veteran who spent 22 years in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division.American street gangs have gone global, and increasingly, they're in the service of Uncle Sam."There are a lot of them out there, already in the ranks," cautions Hunter Glass, a veteran and gang detective out of Nashville who now works as a consultant on gang behavior. The U.S. Air Force is among his clients.

Sailors, Marines, soldiers, even women, are flaunting their gang ties, while in uniform."In the combat zone, they will support each other, but as soon as they are off the battle field, all bets are off," says Glass.10News obtained video taken on base at Fort Bragg, which shows Bloods and Gangster Disciples on the dance floor. First they are throwing gang sings; then they throw punches.Glass spoke to the Army officer who took the video who was assaulted while taping it."There is nothing glamorous about being a gang member, "Glass says. "It's about money, it's about profit."He says gang members in the military have a sworn allegiance, not solely to the President of the United States, but to their gang set.

The initiations are brutal. 10News showed videotape of a jump-in, where gang members continuously beat a new recruit for six agonizing minutes. He has to take the beating. Once it's over, the gangsters' ritual includes a blessing over their newest member. Gangs in the military use the same initiation.

Carter Smith warns, "They'll actually send people into the military to be recruiters in the military."That's what T.J. Leyden did while serving for 3 years as a Marine at Camp Pendleton. Reformed now, he was then a racist and a leader of a white power gang."Everyone totally knew what I was doing," says Leyden. "And I recruited 12 active members of the United States military to join a white supremacy group."

It was a violent recruitment into a gang which cost Stephanie Cockrell her son, Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson."What did I do? What should I have done? What happened? What went wrong?" she still asks herself.Juwan Johnson grew up on the tough streets of Baltimore. His mother warned him over the years to say away from the gangsters hanging out on the corner. She never thought to repeat that warning when he joined the U.S. Army."

There are gangs here in the streets," she says. "But in the military? I was in the military, I don't remember a gang in the military!"She spent five years in the Army herself, and thought the experience would be a good one for her son. Sgt. Johnson spent 6 years in the Army and served 18 months in Iraq. His mom still watches the home video she took of him during a brief visit home."Thank you, and I love you all," he says on camera to his large extended family, during a family picnic.He had only two weeks left in the service when offers to join a gang swayed him. So he ended up in a park outside a base in Germany, where his life would end as he was "jumped in" to the Gangster Disciples. They beat him to death. Eleven soldiers and airmen took part."And after they beat him to death, they took him back to the barracks, and they went out to clubs to dance," exclaims Cockrell, with disbelief.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a drain on the U.S. military, forcing relaxation of standards, "moral waivers", to join. More service personnel have criminal records and gang ties than in years past." My concern is when they get out," adds Carter Smith.In the 1990's, while working as an Army criminal intelligence officer, he was one of the first to uncover the growth of street gangs in the ranks. He says the general estimate is that about 1 percent of the U.S. Armed Forces are gang members, 13,000 to 14,000 of them, roughly the population of Solana Beach."

They will have been trained to do lots of things from the basic support, logistics, and transportation, to the use of weapons," he warns. According to the National Gang Intelligence Center and the Army Criminal Investigation Command, "Gang related activity in the U.S. military is increasing ... posing a threat to law enforcement officials and national security." The gang activity ranges from graffiti you can see in pictures from Iraq, to shootouts and murder much closer to home."Crimes involving military soldiers have been on the rise, and violent crimes at that," says Hunter Glass.In San Diego, an ex-Marine marksman, Nathanial Guillen, and active member of the Bloods, shot a rival gang member to death in La Mesa. He was found guilty of murder in 2006.In Northern California, a Camp Pendleton Marine and gang member named Andres Raya ambushed police with military tactics and a high power riffle, murdering police Sgt. Howard Stevenson. Raya was killed in the shoot out.

Those are only two examples."They're gang members at heart, they're not going to be changing. It's what they live for, what they believe," says Glass.Officially, no branch of the service allows gangs. However, criminal courts are reducing felony charges to misdemeanors, allowing gangsters who promise to reform to join the military rather than go to prison.Glass adds, "Are they good in a fight? Yes that's right, but when dog fighting becomes illegal, what do you do with the dogs?"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Combating gang warfare

Saturday, 18 October 2008
Staff Writer
Gang-related activity in the U.S. military is increasing an Auglaize County Sheriff’s deputy says, and it is posing a threat to law enforcement officials and national security.
“Members of nearly every major street gang have been identified on both domestic and international installations, including the Bloods, Crips, Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples, Hell’s Angels, Latin Kings and the Mexican Mafia,” Samuel Blank, a certified Gang Resistance, Education and Training (GREAT) officer, said. “Although gang activity is most prevalent in the Army, the Army Reserves and the National Guard, gang activity is also found throughout all branches of the military and its ranks, but is most common among the junior enlisted ranks.” According to a 2007 assessment by the National Gang Intelligence Center, the extent of gang presence in the armed services is often difficult to determine since many enlisted gang members conceal their gang affiliation and military authorities may not recognize the affiliation or may be inclined not to report such incidences. Due to this, the military enlistment of gang members could ultimately lead to a worldwide expansion of U.S.-based gangs.
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division reported a modest increase in gang-related activity in the Army during the past several years. Of the 10,309 criminal inci-
dents they investigated in 2006, 16 were for gang-related offenses, an increase from four in 2003.
“There is only a small sub-group composed of gang members enlisting in the U.S. military today who are actually abusing their military training,” Blank said. “More than 95 percent of the military’s recruiters are joining the armed forces for the right reasons, to act in the best interest of their country.
“Overall, we are talking about small numbers here that have the potential to increase if law enforcement and military officers do not continue to grow wiser in understanding the measures that need to be taken to filter gang members out of the military and its branches,” he said.
There are a number of reasons why gang members enlist in the military today, Blank said.
“Some join to escape their current environment or gang lifestyle,” Blank said. “Others will enlist to receive weapons, combat and convoy training, to obtain access to weapons and explosives or as an alternative to incarceration. Once they are discharged, they may use their military training against law enforcement officials and rival gang members. This military training could result in more organized, sophisticated and deadly gangs, as well as an increase in deadly assaults on law enforcement officers.”
In 2007, the National Gang Intelligence Center stated that gang membership in the armed forces could disrupt order and discipline, increase criminal activity on and off military installations and compromise installation security and force protection.
Gang incidents involving active-duty personnel on or near U.S. military bases nationwide include drive-by shootings, assaults, robberies, drug distribution, weapons violations, domestic disturbances, vandalism, extortion and money laundering. Gangs have also been known to use active-duty service members to distribute their drugs.
The National Gang Intelligence Center also reported that military-trained gang members present an emerging threat to law enforcement officers patrolling the streets of U.S. cities. Both current and former gang-affiliated soldiers transfer their acquired military training and knowledge back to the community and use them against law enforcement officers, who are typically not trained to engage gangsters with military expertise.
“In bringing what they learn from the military back to the streets, gang members will not only send one of their gangsters with no criminal record into the armed serves to learn how to fight, but to also receive medical training,” Blank said. “In this way, the gangster will know how to self-medicate himself or other members of his gang in the event of a knife fight or a drive-by shooting. It is also important to note that gangs do not have to be from bigger cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York to be in existence.
“Just because we haven’t had any gang activity here in Auglaize County doesn’t mean that gang members or their sub-groups haven’t traveled through the area,” he said. “However, it’s always hard to tell who is passing through because gang members hide their affiliation with gangs exceptionally well.”
Gang members also have been known to enlist in the military by failing to report past criminal convictions or by using fraudulent documents, according to the National Gang Intelligence Center. In addition, some applicants enter the criminal justice system as juveniles and their criminal records are sealed and unavailable to recruiters performing criminal background investigations. Many military recruiters are not properly trained to recognize gang affiliation and unknowingly recruit gang members, particularly if the applicant has no criminal record or visible tattoos.
“Gang members commonly target dependent children of military personnel for recruitment,” Blank said. “Military children are considered potential candidates for gang membership because the transient nature of their families often makes them feel isolated, vulnerable and in need of companionship,”
With gang members reaching out to youth for recruitment purposes, Blank said he believes it’s important to educate the children of today about resisting the pressure to join a gang and how to avoid violence.
“Earlier this month, I visited the seventh-grade student body at the Wapakoneta Middle School and was asked by some teachers to give a presentation on gang membership and myths,” Blank said. “At the time, the students were reading ‘The Outsiders’ as an assignment for their language arts class. In tying the historical fiction together with gang membership, I educated the students on why youth fall into the peer pressures of joining gangs — to receive a sense of belonging.
“I also discussed how gangs are established, what gangs are popular today (such as the Bloods and the Crips), common gang myths, lifestyles of gang members and gang identifiers including locations, signs, colors and behaviors,” he said. “I think it’s important to educate the youth today about gangs and their activities because they need to know that no matter what the issue is, violence and destruction solves nothing, whether your part of a gang or not.”
Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 October 2008 )

for point of reference, this post is from a newspaper in Wapakoneta, OH, pretty far from any major military base, so I suspect this is second or third-hand information . . .

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Imprisoned vets tell their war stories for history

Interesting tidbits that contradict the notion that the military has ever been able to change the gang mindset:

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — As U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam in early 1974, Seaman Apprentice Frederic D. Jones was fighting his own battles.

The cocky Baltimore teenager spent nearly three months AWOL in the Philippines. There, he said, he played cat-and-mouse with shore patrol while fending off a murderous drug dealer, romancing the sister of a militia leader and robbing other servicemen to feed his heroin habit.

Eventually caught, Jones negotiated an honorable discharge but couldn't stay clean. An armed robbery spree in 1995 got him a 45-year sentence in the Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.

While Jones, now 52, is locked away from society, his war story has been preserved for posterity. He is among the first incarcerated veterans to tell his military service tale to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Video recordings of more than 30 inmates at the medium-security prison are archived at the library's American Folklife Center, along with those of nearly 60,000 other veterans. Just one other prison, the Fairton Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, N.J., has collected veterans' stories, said Bob Patrick, director of the Veterans History Project.

Congress created the oral history program in 2000 to document the personal wartime experiences of American service members. The library doesn't try to verify their stories, but The Associated Press confirmed the service records of the inmates mentioned in this report.

Patrick said that by recognizing their roles in history, the project dignifies the service of veterans who take part. Jones was so proud of his videotape that he had a copy sent to his elderly mother.

"She was so overjoyed and surprised," he said.

Since any veteran, no matter how decorated or disgraced, can contribute to the archive, Jones' story was as welcome as that of any admiral. And it's hard to imagine one more colorful.

On his nearly 90-minute recording, Jones recounts his adventures as a "young, wild, impulsive," 18-year-old in and around the Subic Bay Naval Base. There, he said, a female gang called the Black Stockings helped him steal cash and watches from drunken sailors and aided him in avoiding a drug dealer he had wronged.

"I ended up getting a contract on my life," Jones says. "I felt like I had never left home."

Jones, who is black, said he enlisted in the Navy seeking structure and style — he liked the bell-bottomed uniforms — but he quickly grew disenchanted by the racism and drug use he found.

"I'd had my own preconceived ideas what the military was — I mean straight-up, strict discipline," Jones says on the video, made a year ago. "The drugs, the gang mentality — it was all right there in the military. It was a big letdown."

In a June interview with the AP, Jones said he doesn't blame the military for his mistakes but has found in prison the sort of discipline he had expected from the Navy. Behind bars, he and 58-year-old John E. Barba, who is serving a life sentence for robbing and murdering a methamphetamine maker, have become co-chairmen of the prison's veterans history committee.

Guided by materials from the Library of Congress, they have become such skilled interviewers since last fall that they and prison librarian Mary Stevanus, who spearheaded the history project, hope to produce a how-to booklet or video for other veterans groups, in or out of prison.

"What you're looking for is the meat of the stuff," said Barba, who served domestically in the Navy from 1970 to 1974. Working together, he and Jones conduct informal "pre-interviews" with their subjects, making notes of compelling material "so when they're giving their interview, we can dive in," Barba said.

They extracted a harrowing account from Ronald L. McClary, 62, of his experience under fire as a fresh-faced Marine in Vietnam. On his video, the burly inmate, seated before a large U.S. flag, recalls his daily "search-and-destroy" missions.

"Every day, you would look at one of your buddies and wonder who wasn't going home today or who was going to get killed today. Everybody knew it was going to be somebody," said McClary, who is serving 12 years for the second-degree murder of his wife in Baltimore 2005.

He recounted a firefight in which two buddies were killed.

"Three rounds went off. The first round hit Amos in the head. Amos fell. When Amos fell, Cope looked around and looked down at Amos. The second round hit Cope in the head. And I seen it. I told you, three rounds went off. Cope was to my left. Amos was to my left, and then there was me. You cannot tell me today the third round wasn't meant for me. But I was down. I was eating dirt."

Ordered by his lieutenant to get up and charge the enemy, McClary fired two shots before his gun jammed. "I had to get back down," he says on the video. "I've never been so scared in all my life."

Jones said he feels privileged hearing such stories.

"These guys have kept this stuff to themselves for 40 years," he said. "You'll see one guy that actually breaks down and cries. I mean, these are hardened criminals and he breaks down and cries on his video."

About 226,000 of the national's 25.1 million veterans were in prison or jail in 1998, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics' most recent report on the subject.

Matt Davison, chairman of an incarcerated veterans project for New York-based VietNow National, a veterans advocacy group, said most inmate vets he's met are proud of having served — and many feel remorse for having done something dishonorable.

Barba said most of the inmates he has interviewed for the history project express gratitude that they were able to serve.

In one video, white-haired World War II vet Lee D. Gerhold, doing 50 years for arranging an ex-wife's murder, grips his cane and says, "I'm thankful to the country for accepting me."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Divided Loyalty for military gang members

  • I am an American Soldier.
  • I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
  • I will always place the mission first.
These lines start the Soldier's Creed. They also (if tested) would end the military careers of many gang members.

When examining the various aspects of gang life, loyalty within the gang organization often receives little or no attention. It is important that this concept be recognized, since violence is often a forced product of the underlying assumptions that hold street gangs together (Ruble & Turner, 2000), and violence is something that the military trains most service members to respond to (and sometimes deliver).

Loyalty becomes an issue in many organizations, but nowhere is it more critical than in the public service sector. The military and police departments across the United States have been infiltrated by gangs who seek access to weapons or sensitive information regarding investigations (Witkowski, 2004). The threat to these organizations does not come from the traditional worker.

Those in the military who are trained to fight in battle are not the only positions in which the loyalty of a gang member would be an issue. Those who control the finances and personnel assignments, as well as those who oversee logistics shipments can exploit their positions for the gang's benefit. Those in and affiliated with policing and corrections may have access to criminal records, prisoner assignments, and transportation.

The indoctrination phase of these institutions cannot be compared to that used by the gang, and those holding dual positions (a member of the gang and the military or police) should be watched. They will not be intimidated by drill instructors. They will not admit their gang affiliation to investigators. They will not brag to their co-workers that they were able to join the military even though they were gang members.

Some military installations brief new arrivals and their family members on the dangers of gangs. Periodically, military installations will conduct tattoo inspections or publish local addresses situated near military installations of known gang hangouts that are considered off-limits to military personnel (Witkowski, 2004). Despite these briefings, many military leaders publicly deny the existence of gang members in their organizations, or at a minimum deny that their presence in the organization is a problem.

Nonetheless, members of nearly every major street gang, including the Bloods, Crips, Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples, Hells Angels, Latin Kings, The 18th Street Gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Mexican Mafia, Nortenos, Surenos, Vice Lords, and various white supremacist groups, have been found throughout private and public sector employment, and even the U.S. Military. They are present in most branches and across all ranks of the military, especially the junior enlisted. Estimates of their effect on and participation in these areas are hard to obtain because many gang-related incidences are un-reported or exclude references to gang affiliation and there has been no record of a Department of Defense survey to locate military gang members.

Gang members often enter the workforce at the lower levels, but some may work their way into more career-oriented positions. Many join the military to escape their current environment or troubled gang lifestyle. Others may enlist in the military as an alternative to incarceration; to receive combat training; to obtain access to weapons and supplies; to learn basic first aid and medic skills that can later benefit their gang; or to take advantage of opportunities to commit crimes; and to recruit new members for their gang.

Those who enter the military to leave the gang lifestyle have a perfect opportunity. But those who enter the military to establish connections for drug running and weapons trafficking also have an opportunity. None of the military departments have an effective strategy for 1) identifying and 2) tracking the reformation of gang members, or truly 3) cracking the code. Current law prohibits only "active" participation, which means that those who enter or are sent to learn tactics or make connections would not be seen as active. We learned (again) with the war on terrorism that young men are quite capable of hiding their intentions.

Perhaps we should allow gang members into the military. To do so without oversight, though, is a mistake.

What do you think?


Ruble, N. M., & Turner, W. L. (2000). A systemic analysis of the dynamics and organization of urban street gangs. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 28(2), 117-132.
Witkowski, M. J. (2004). The Gang's All Here. Security Management. Arlington: May 2004, 48,(5) 95.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Can you prevent membership in organized criminal groups if you are the SecDef?

With more than 750,000 criminal street gang members in the United States (approximately the population of Austin, TX), government officials at all levels are searching for ways to restrict the negative impact of gang-related activity on the community. Many of these attempts have been challenged in the courts, in academia, and the media, having been deemed overly broad in scope, though specifically limiting solutions have been used with some success.

H.R. 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Section 544 - became law (Public Law 110-181), and requires the Secretary of Defense to prescribe regulations to prohibit the active participation of military personnel in street gangs.

The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President back in January, yet here we are, more than six months later, with no changes to military policy on gang membership.

It didn't take that long to pass the USAPATRIOT Act.

Perhaps we are being more careful. Or, perhaps we are trying to see if denial works yet . . .

Gangs aren't a new blip on the radar screen -- over twelve years ago, the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense were told, "Gang-related activities appear to be more pervasive than extremist activities as defined in Army Regulation 600-20."

This was from an investigative Task Force formed in response to an Extremist-related killing that was looking to see if there was a problem with Extremists in the Army. The task force visited 28 major Army installations in the United States, Germany, and Korea during January and February 1996. After conducting over 7,000 interviews and 17,080 written surveys, the task force concluded that there was minimal evidence of extremist-group activity in the Army . . .

They did note there was more of a “security concern” with street gangs.

They said "Yes, But . . ." when responding to the Secretary. Their response essentially was "Yes, there are a few more of those hate-mongers in the military, but there's a related problem that you really ought to pay attention to -- street gangs!"

That's akin to inspecting a car for someone who asked you to see if the car needed belts, tires, fluids and you respond with, "Yes, we need to schedule all that, but you need to know that the tread on your front tires is dangerously low." Or, imagine asking a private investigator to see if your spouse is visiting the racetrack and he responds with, "She bets on the horses about once a week, but she visits a hotel room with a different guy every Tuesday and Friday while you are working."

Do you wait twelve years to process this new information?

So here we are twelve years later, Congress AND the President agreed with the Task Force's report, and after six months . . . nothing. The NFL gets it, why not the Secretary of Defense?

What's it going to take?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Soldier charged again for alleged role in 2006 gang-beating death

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, June 27, 2007

Army Pvt. Bobby Morrissette has been charged again for his alleged role in the 2005 gang initiation beating death of a fellow soldier.

On Tuesday, Morrissette, 25, was charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, participation in gang initiation rituals, indecent acts, impeding an investigation, impeding trial by court-martial and willfully disobeying an officer, according to an Army news release.

An article 32 hearing has not yet been scheduled for Morrissette, said Denver Makle, a spokeswoman with Joint Multinational Training Command. Morrissette is assigned to the 1st Cargo Transfer Company in Grafenwöhr, Germany.

In October 2006, Morrissette was charged with murder and other related charges in relation to Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson’s death.

Morrissette, who then faced a maximum possible sentence of life in prison without parole, became the first of several Kaiserslautern-area soldiers and airmen charged in Johnson’s death.

Johnson died of multiple blunt force injuries on July 4, 2005, after an alleged initiation ceremony into the Gangster Disciples.

In previous cases, witnesses have testified that as many as 10 former and current soldiers and airmen beat Johnson for six minutes during the initiation near Kaiserslautern, Germany.

In June 2007, Morrissette’s former commanding general dismissed and withdrew all charges against Morrissette to comply with a military judge’s ruling.

The judge disqualified 21st Theater Sustainment Command lawyers and commanders from the case for not following protocol during the investigation into Johnson’s death.

The disqualification surrounded a December 2005 interview of Morrissette in which prosecutors and investigators did not follow proper procedure.

To date, two soldiers and one airman have been convicted in Johnson’s killing, and one soldier was acquitted in the matter last year. Army lawyers who will prosecute Morrissette have attended some of the previous hearings and courts-martial surrounding the Johnson case.

"Military defense attorneys are always detailed for such cases," Makle wrote in an e-mail. "It is unknown at this time whether (Morrissette) will choose to be represented by civilian counsel as well."

Friday, May 30, 2008

What exactly makes a gang member a gang member?

In the previous post (Gang members don't belong . . .) we referenced the ongoing conversation over at the Modesto Bee.

Here's the recent thought provoking dialog update:
What exactly makes a gang member a gang member? Sounds like a lot of stereotyping going on. You could consider a bunch of Marines with USMC tattoos consider gang members when they are hanging out together right? -

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Opinion: Gang members don't belong in the military or our community

A citizen from California is of the opinion that Street criminals and gang members must not be sent to the military. Bert Cook writes, "If they have not previously been good, honorable citizens in their communities, they will not become trustworthy members in uniform."His experience was in the late 1950s . . . has anything changed?

UPDATE: Been in conversation over there (this post, see "read more" below) with thattalldude. Check out his solution to state budget crunches, especially regarding the notion of early release of prisoners.

read more | digg story

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mother of sergeant fatally beaten in gang initiation takes aim at son’s killer, military

Saturday, May 24, 2008
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes European edition, Sunday, May 25, 2008 Steve Mraz / S&S

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Losing a child is like somebody stabbing you in the heart with an ice pick and leaving it in just so they can apply pressure. The ice pick is never ripped out of your heart, just constantly ripped at.

That’s how Stephanie Cockrell, the mother of a soldier beaten to death by fellow troops during a 2005 gang initiation, described the feeling of life without her only child, Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

During a court-martial last week for Airman Nicholas Sims, Cockrell told the court she is not proud her son joined a gang hours before his death on July 4, 2005. She wonders how she’ll tell her grandson about the identity of the father he will never meet.

The 28-year-old Sims — who has been in pretrial confinement for 162 days — was sentenced Friday to eight years’ confinement, dishonorable discharge and reduction to the lowest rank for his role in Johnson’s death. However, Sims will serve no more than six years’ jail time because of a pretrial agreement and credit for time already served. On Wednesday, Sims pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, disobeying an order by being a gang member and distribution of marijuana and Ecstasy.

On July 3, 2005, Sims was one of at least six Gangster Disciples who beat Johnson for six minutes during a gang initiation near Kaiserslautern, according to testimony. Two soldiers were convicted last year for their part in Johnson’s death. They were sentenced to 12 years’ and six years’ of confinement, respectively. A third soldier tried in 2007 was acquitted.

Sims’ court-martial, which initially was set to begin Monday, started Wednesday afternoon.
During roughly four hours of questioning Wednesday from the military judge, Air Force Col. Gordon Hammock, Sims detailed his participation in Johnson’s initiation.

Hammock repeatedly sought to determine why things got so out of hand on July 3, 2005.
"I have no idea as to why it escalated to the point that it did," Sims told the judge. "It just got out of control."

Sims, who trained as a boxer in his youth in Queens, N.Y., was asked several questions by Hammock about the ferocity of Johnson’s beating.

"You’re a strong guy," Hammock said. "If you were on the receiving end of that (beating), how do you think you would have fared?"

Sims’ reply underscored the severity of what the 5-foot-3 Johnson went through.

"I don’t see how anybody could have made it out of that," Sims said.

On Thursday evening, Cockrell took the stand to deliver testimony that captivated the courtroom and brought Sims to tears.

Cockrell talked of raising Johnson as a single mother in Baltimore. At times, the former drug addict and current counselor had courtroom spectators laughing. At times, Cockrell had the gallery crying. At times, Cockrell broke down.

The gang, in which Sims said he served as the second-highest-ranking member, fashioned itself as a family that would do anything for its members. Cockrell wondered where those family values were when gang members continued to punch and kick her son, even after he fell and could no longer stand during his initiation, she said.

Just like the other convicted gang members, Sims expressed regret for his actions on July 3, 2005, and what happened to Johnson. Cockrell wasn’t buying it Thursday night.

"Isn’t it funny," she said. "None of them showed remorse until you bring them to justice."
Twice Cockrell was asked if she had anything else she would like to say to the judge, Sims or the court.

She turned to Sims and then the judge.

"I say to you (Sims)," Cockrell said, "how could you beat [Johnson] when you didn’t even know him? I would say to the judge: At what point do we do something different to make sure this doesn’t happen in our military?"

In an intensely emotional moment, Cockrell addressed Sims a final time.

"I hope you feel some remorse for killing (Johnson) because at the end of the day that’s what you’ve done," said Cockrell while sobbing. "You robbed me of not only my son but my best friend."

Seated among his three lawyers, Sims uttered a tearful "I’m sorry."

Sims quietly wept in his chair for minutes afterward.

© 2007 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Airman details involvement in gang beating

Friday, May 23, 2008

Airman details involvement in gang beating

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, May 23, 2008

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — A military judge on Thursday accepted the guilty plea of Airman Nicholas Sims, who admitted to charges of involuntary manslaughter, disobeying an order and distributing marijuana and Ecstasy.

Sims is the first airman to face legal punishment for his role in the 2005 gang-beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

The decision came a day after Sims pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a pre-trial agreement that limits his potential sentence. Neither the full details of Sims’ pre-trial agreement nor his sentence were announced as of press time Thursday.

The involuntary manslaughter charge stems from Johnson’s death. Johnson was beaten for six minutes by at least six members of the Gangster Disciples on the evening of July 3, 2005. Johnson was found dead in his Kaiserslautern barracks the next day.

With the pre-trial agreement, Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Bishop, commander of the 3rd Air Force and the convening authority in the case, agreed to a deal with the man prosecutors called the No. 2 ranking member of the gang in the Kaiserslautern area. The gang numbered around 30 to 40 members, and Sims participated in at least 15 gang-beating initiations, including Johnson’s, according to testimony.

The gang provoked several fights at area bars and clubs during Sims’ involvement, beginning in 2002.

Sims faced a maximum punishment of 42 years in confinement, a dishonorable discharge, a fine and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

During roughly four hours of questioning Wednesday from Judge (Col.) Gordon Hammock, Sims detailed his gang involvement and participation in Johnson’s initiation.

Hammock repeatedly sought to determine why things got so out of hand on July 3, 2005. Johnson’s initiation was the most violent of the roughly 15 to 20 "jump-ins" in which Sims said he had been involved in the Kaiserslautern area.

"I have no idea as to why it escalated to the point that it did," Sims said. "It just got out of control."

After the first punch from local Gangster Disciple "governor" and former Ramstein airman Rico Williams, Johnson fell to the ground unconscious, Sims said Johnson fell at least three times during the ensuing beating and was kicked by Williams while he was on the ground, Sims said.

Sims, who trained as a boxer in his youth in Queens, N.Y., was asked several questions by Hammock about the ferocity of Johnson’s beating. At one point Wednesday, the bailiff fetched a box of Kleenex for Sims.

"You’re a strong guy," Hammock said. "If you were on the receiving end of that (beating) how do you think you would have fared?"

Sims’ reply underscored the severity of what the 5-foot-3 Johnson went through.

"I don’t see how anybody could have made it out of that," Sims said.

© 2007 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gangs in the Military Ranks -- it's really nothing new (and neither is the debate)

At least it's nothing new that non-conformists who act in concert to disrupt the peace and tranquility of the community live among us . . .

Street gangs were found as early as the 1600’s when groups of roving peasants attacked villages and travelers in England. These early gangs had unique symbols and hand-signs to identify themselves (Tornabene, 2005). In the United States, most urban neighborhoods were (and often still are) divided by ethnic groups (Italian, Jewish, Irish, German, Polish, etc.). Curry and Decker (2003) observed that gangs have existed in the United States since at least the 1870s, and have transformed through several periods of growth since that time. Gangs from the late 1800s and early 1900s were comprised primarily of immigrants who committed crimes and represented the bottom of the economic and cultural scale (Curry & Decker, 2003). The members of gangs in the mid-1900s, however, appeared to have a slightly different composition, primarily comprised of racial minorities – both African-American and Latino, but still representing those at the bottom of the economic scale (Curry & Decker, 2003).

Gangs have evolved to where they are today — a very real threat to the safety and security of our communities. The gang "problem" is no longer simply an immigrant problem, and gang membership is increasingly represented across ethnic and racial differences (Butler & Garcia, 2006). Gang members come from all walks of life, represent a variety of household incomes, and often have stable households (aside from the existence of a gang member in them). Gang members are individuals from many ethnicities, races, and nationalities. Gangs have evolved to become what the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention referred to (back in 2000) as "an increasingly significant social policy issue" (Strategies, 2000).

Gang members can be seen in various businesses, and are employed in many organizations in the public sector. A presence in each of these areas can cause subtle changes to the actions and activities of the gangs, though the gang mentality exists in them all. The question we need to consider is whether allegiance to a gang creates a problem with employment – specifically employment in the military.

The Veterans Voice says: There have always been people in the military that had gang affiliations from back home. Good old white boys who had been members of the KKK or inner-city persons who had been street gang members. Back in the day when the military had a draft, being an ex-gang member was not a reason for keeping you from being forced into the armed services. The Department of Defense just looked the other way.

Moblito reports: in December 2007, Congress passed a bill that was intended to ban members of street gangs and other unsavory organizations. It’s been called The 2008 Defense Authorization Bill and it calls for the Pentagon to put membership in a criminal street gang on the list of prohibited activities for service members. The language of the bill prohibits membership “in any organizations that ‘espouse supremacist causes; attempt to create illegal discrimination … advocate the use of force or violence; or otherwise engage in efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.’”

Well the Klansmen who were doing double duty in the military were ignored, and the bill to criminalize gang membership in the military was vetoed by the President. I won't add a commentary on my suspicions, but you'll note that there were more than enough votes for passing the legislation to override the veto, and yet we've heard nothing about one.

Perhaps there was some concern about, as Dreadnaught reported, . . . while it is obvious that having active gang members in our Armed Forces is dangerous and should be avoided, it is not clear how the military will view past involvement in a street gang.

Or it could be something like rochester veteran's concern about the recent series with “Gangland: Basic Training” . . . that it could leave the gullible believing that our brave men and women in the US Armed Forces are bloodthirsty criminals and a danger to the civilian world.

But, like Right Mind observed: If DoD wants to get serious on gang issues, it needs to make participation in gangs as a disqualifying factor in enlistment.

But it think there's more to it than that . . . check the numbers for yourself -- here.

What do you think?


Butler, R. & Garcia, V. (2006, April). The parole supervision of security threat groups: A collaborative response. Corrections Today, 68(2), 60-63.
Curry, G. D. and Decker, S. H. (2003). Confronting gangs: Crime and community (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.
Strategies to deal with youth gangs. (2000, November). Organized Crime Digest, 21(21), 6.
Tornabene, R. (2005). Gangs 101 for School Personnel, G.A.T.E. America Inc.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gen. Petraeus looking for MS-13 in the ranks?

The Washington Times, America's Newspaper says "Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, who recently wrapped up a failed presidential bid based on a platform of fighting illegal immigration, just asked Gen. David Petraeus about whether members of the U.S. military in Iraq are participating in the violent gang MS-13. Tancredo has blamed the spread of MS-13 domestically on what he sees as the United States' failure to secure its southern border. Tancredo asked whether members of MS-13 were gaining recruits within the ranks of the U.S. military, receiving weapons training and returning to the United States to commit acts of violence. 'I'm not aware of a problem with gangs,' Petraeus replied. 'That's one that I'll have to check on.'"
I smell a fish . . . not that I think the commander of all things warfighting has time or initiative to "look for" gang members in the ranks, but how is it that this news outlet scooped the story?
Try this search on Google News for Petraeus Gang to see if anyone else is reporting it -- let me know if I am missing something. How 'bout on Google Blogesearch?
What do you think?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Teen shoots himself to prove gang ties

By Brian KernHendricks County Flyer (Avon, Ind.)

(actually, I think it proves that he's imbalanced -- see the medication references)

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — A Brownsburg teen allegedly shot himself four times to prove to friends and an ex-girlfriend that he had gang ties.Zachary Booso, 19, was arrested early Sunday morning for filing a false police report after telling authorities that he was attacked and shot by an Indianapolis man.Booso later recanted and admitted that the gun shot wounds were self-inflicted and from a single shot air BB gun that he had purchased earlier in the evening.Booso initially told police that he went to meet a friend when he was flagged down by a 6-foot, 175-pound male wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans. Booso told investigators that the man pulled a homemade weapon and demanded his wallet before shooting him in his right cheek, both shoulders, and his right thigh.Booso was taken to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis where investigators continued to probe him about the incident.

Suspicions arose surrounding Booso’s story when he told investigators that the shooter was 5 to 10 feet away, but then later claimed that the shot to his cheek had first entered his mouth. According to a police report, Booso told police that he must have had his mouth open when the shot was fired. When questioned further, police say Booso admitted that he had inflicted the wounds on himself before throwing the BB gun into a retention pond.Booso explained that his friends did not believe his claims to have gang affiliations and that the staged assault was intended to convince them otherwise.Investigators contacted Booso’s mother, Carla Evans, who allegedly told police that her son had a history of prescription drug abuse.

Ironically, he had become addicted to painkillers last December after shooting himself with a pellet gun to avoid returning to duty in the U.S. Navy.Booso was arraigned and later released on bond Monday.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Truck with "extras" seized . . . Military vs. Gang + Police

"MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican soldiers battling a violent drug gang and corrupt local police confiscated a sport utility vehicle decked out with extras worthy of a James Bond movie.

Cartel members rammed their SUV into a military truck patrolling in the state of Tamaulipas and threw a hand grenade before making their escape with the help of local police, the army said in a statement late Tuesday.

Following a shootout with the gang, soldiers said they arrested four municipal police and confiscated an armored Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with a smoke machine and spike sprayer meant to deter pursuers."

. . . from Truck with extras confiscated from gang International Reuters

OK, so the Mexican government recognizes the problem . . . military-style equipment in the hands of gang members . . . who rammed their SUV into a military truck patrolling in the state of Tamaulipas and threw a hand grenade before making their escape with the help of local police.

I think it's time U.S. law enforcement sees this in the "not if, but when" category. Our military gang bangers commit murder, armed robbery, and home invasion, in addition to the drug trafficking, of course. If we don't recruit them, and proactively regulate those who are in, we may avoid what our neighbors to the south have not . . .

Let's start playing like it's not a game . . .

Friday, February 29, 2008

NEWSCHANNEL 13 Investigation Reveals Gangs In The Military
Updated:Feb 28, 2008 03:45 PM CST

NEWSCHANNEL 13 Investigation Reveals Gangs In The Military

By Josh Simeone

COLORADO SPRINGS - They are the ones protecting our country, but is everyone who joins the military joining to protect your freedom?
Colorado Springs Police confirm to NEWSCHANNEL 13 that gangs have infiltrated army bases and posts nationwide.
From Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, to Ft. Drum, New York, reports indicate gang activity in the military has become a large problem.
Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Rob Kelley, a GangNet Sgt. at the Sand Creek substation says gang members join the military for the training.
"They get trained on weapons, they get trained on tactics - they go into finance, learn how to move money, large amounts of money," Sgt. Kelley says.
Sgt. Kelley says the military offers the best training available, and gang members are well aware of it. To make matters worse, police find it nearly impossible to track gang members who join the military. Sgt. Kelley says members take advantage of computer and cell phone technology to stay virtually invisible to law enforcement.
"They've come up, remained under the radar, have no criminal record, there's nothing to keep them out."
A former gang member tells NEWSCHANNEL 13 the military not only offers training that is valuable on the streets, but it also gets a member noticed. He claims there are even gang members behind the gates of Fort Carson.
In Colorado Springs city limits, police have documented 525 active gang members but they believe that number to be low. Police estimate there to be nearly 1,500 gang members in the city. Historically, CSPD has only document two local gang members to have joined the military, but they admit, they do not have the technology or manpower to track everyone.
Police say it's important to keep in mind that gangs have now organized, and have broadened their activity to stay ahead of law enforcement and the military.
Sources close to the military tell NEWSCHANNEL 13 the military is scanning every incoming soldier for tattoos that may indicate any gang involvement. However, police admit, it's a battle that's nearly impossible to win.
"We're not making any headway right now."
NEWSCHANNEL 13 contacted Fort Carson and talked with a spokesperson who directed us to the United States Army Pubic Affairs Office in Washington, D.C..
A spokesperson at the Pentagon, MAJ Nathan Banks, responded to our questions by writing; "Military personnel must reject participation in extremist organizations and activities - those that advocate racial, gender or ethic hatred, illegal discrimination or the use of force to deprive others of their Constitutional rights."The spokesperson continues to write; "We teach Soldiers and families about some of the over 13,700 gangs in America and some of the potential indicators to look for: use ofnarcotics, new clothing styles and colored bandanas, slang talk, gangster music hand-sign flashing and graffiti."

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