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.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Presenting at the 2009 Gang Violence Summit

2009 Gang Violence Summit held October 5-6, 2009 in Washington, D.C..

Gangs and the Military
(armed forces, air force, army, navy, marines, coast guard)

* Gain an overview of the history and emerging trends associated with dual enlistment (gang and military)
* Identify the unique threat that gang members with military training pose to law enforcement as a result of their military training
* Employ tactics to keep your community safe from discharged gang members and their use of military warfare tactics on the streets

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Presenting at The Investigative Roundtable On Organized Crime 2009 Conference

9/21/09 Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Gangs in the Military
(armed forces, air force, army, navy, marines, coast guard)

Contemporary gangs have been strategically infiltrating military communities around the world since the late 1980's. When gang members are allowed to join the military, they are treated just like other service members – no debriefings, no watch list, and no warnings to local military law enforcement. Is “Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell” the right policy for gangs in the military? How can we ensure gang members are not able to use military urban warfare tactics on our city streets?

This session will provide an overview of the issues associated with the enlistment of past and present gang members in the U.S. Armed Forces and provide recommendations for local, state and federal law enforcement and communities. We will examine the myths and truths associated with dual (gang and military) service, and discuss recommendations for the communities where these individuals go after they are discharged.

Gangs and Hi-Tech Communication

The younger generation in our country cannot remember life without cell phones, CD’s or an email address, and many don’t even use CD’s and email anymore. Many gang members are a part of this generation. Do we know how they communicate? As gangs evolve, they take on more of a business model than they had when they started. How does this affect the way we should investigate them? Do we include the right information on our search warrants? Do we know what our crime labs are capable of finding? In this session, we will review the past, examine the present, and look into the future to see how gangs make contact with each other, what they can talk about without us knowing, and why we need to know how to intercept or at least discover what was said after the fact.

Target Atlanta’s gangs with lessons learned in Baghdad

By Kyle Mallinak

7:54 p.m. Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Street gangs in the Atlanta metro area have earned new attention from local government. Having accepted the existence of a gang problem, city officials are now working to formulate policy responses to restore public confidence and regain control over city neighborhoods.

While admitting the problem is an important first step to a successful gang control policy, the Atlanta Police Department now risks repeating the same policy mistakes that have led to failure throughout the country.

In statements to the AJC, police officials indicated that they would model their gang unit tactics on the methods used by the department’s Red Dog anti-drug unit. In addition, officials pointed to increased numbers of gang-related arrests as evidence of their commitment to solving the problem. Atlanta residents, however, should not confuse tough talk and quick arrests with real progress. A rush to embrace the methods of a controversial “war on drugs” is not the path to a successful gang control policy.

Except in rare cases, street gangs are not large mafia-style organizations. Instead, they are typically a small social network of mutual friends and acquaintances bound together by common aspirations or circumstances. Operating from within the protective cover of local neighborhoods, the gangs cannot be eradicated through large sweeps and blanket arrests. At best, these measures will keep low-level gang members off the streets for a few months; at worst, police harassment will turn casual friends of the gang into committed members and allow incarcerated local gang members to form connections with the thriving system of U.S. prison gangs.

Fortunately, Georgia has a large supply of professionals who know a better way to combat gangs. They are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, currently based at Fort Stewart, Fort Benning and other installations.

These security experts, too, once tried to control violence through hard-nosed tactics. They aggressively patrolled the streets, filled large prisons to capacity and pursued armed fugitives in every corner of the country. But the level of violence continued to increase, and in the process Georgia saw some of its best citizens killed.

Their deaths, however, paved the way for better policies. They now know that the best way to eliminate violent social networks is to build trust with residents and develop local communities, while gathering intelligence about violent offenders.

If Atlanta is serious about containing and defeating its gang problem, it will use its veterans as a source of effective tactics and overall strategic principles. City officials should visit combat commanders, read recent Army field manuals and hear the stories of those who have experienced direct combat. An Army major with two tours in Iraq should have no problem explaining to his police counterpart why large-scale raids can be counterproductive, but his knowledge is useless as long as law enforcement remains committed to simplistic notions of gang control.

Atlanta has the chance to become a national leader in successful gang policy, but the city needs a commitment to move beyond the failed policies of the past. Knee-jerk bravado could not clear insurgents from Baghdad, and it will not clear gangs from the streets of Atlanta — no matter what the APD says.

Kyle Mallinak is a McNair scholar at the University of South Carolina.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Weekend Shooting Is Military And Gang Related, Police Say

Derek Shore-KFOX News Reporter

Posted: 8:30 pm MDT September 1, 2009Updated: 9:23 pm MDT September 1, 2009
EL PASO, Texas -- After a Fort Bliss soldier was shot early Sunday morning near the popular Cincinnati area in West El Paso, police reveal the man accused of pulling the trigger is also a Fort Bliss soldier. Police are calling the shooting gang-related.

Spc. Frank Calderon was shot after an altercation at 32 Degrees bar on Mesa Street. Antonio Saunders, also a soldier, has been charged with shooting him. Sources tell KFOX that Saunders is also a member of the Bloods street gang.

With the future growth of Fort Bliss, there is fear police may have to deal with an increase in soldiers who are also gang members.

"Over the last couple of years, we've seen more of a problem than we have seen in past years," said Sgt. Reggie Moton, the head of the El Paso police gang task force.

But Moton claims soldiers in gangs are not any more or less dangerous.

"Over the last couple years, when we go out and we deal with the military people on the different cases that have come up, it's no different than what we deal with with other gang members," Moton said.

However, The National Gang Intelligence Center disagrees. In their 2009 gang assessment, the center said:

"Gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of the distinctive military skills that they possess and their willingness to teach these skills to fellow gang members."

While the number of military members in gangs isn’t known, the assessment said the center has confirmed 19 gangs have military trained members in them. The gangs include the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings.

This isn’t the only organized crime that has been linked back to an El Paso soldier. Pfc. Michael Apodaca, a Fort Bliss soldier, is accused of drug cartel activity after he allegedly shot an ICE informant back in May.

Moton said he will work to stop any growing trends and do so with Fort Bliss’ help.

"As a matter, of fact they were involved in the case this past weekend. They came out and provided us help in this case," Moton said.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Alleged shooter also a Fort Bliss soldier

By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
Posted: 09/01/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- A Fort Bliss soldier was arrested Monday, accused of shooting another soldier during a gang fight last weekend in the Cincinnati Avenue Entertainment District.

Pvt. Antonio Saunders, 23, surrendered to Military Police and allegedly admitted to firing gunshots during a street fight at a traffic light as hundreds of patrons were leaving clubs and bars early Sunday in the popular nightlife area, El Paso police said.

Saunders was charged with two counts of attempted murder. He is accused of wounding Spc. Frank Calderon, 22, and also firing toward Kay Yem, 18, who was not hit. Police said Yem is also a soldier at Fort Bliss.

Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said Calderon, who was shot twice, remained in critical condition on Monday at University Medical Center of El Paso.

Offutt said Calderon is with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division rear detachment. Saunders is with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. Information on Yem was not immediately available.

Police and witnesses said a fight between gangs began inside the 32 Degrees nightclub. After the combatants were ejected from the club, a fight continued in the parking lot before they drove away.

Minutes later, two groups began fighting again when their vehicles pulled up next to each other at a stop light at the North Mesa and Baltimore intersection. Calderon and Yem were fighting with at least two men when Calderon was shot.

The police Drive-by Shooting Response Team

continues to investigate the incident and details about the soldiers' gang ties, if any, were not released.

Soldiers involved in gang activity is not new. The FBI and El Paso police have been tracking members of street gangs affiliated with the rapidly growing Army post since at least 2004, according to a National Gang Intelligence Center report released two years.