The Gangfighters Network is an organization designed to bridge the gap between academia and the criminal justice professions. For more information, visit http://www.gangfighters.net/ and http://www.gangsinthemilitary.com/ 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.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The Military Gang Perception Questionnaire collected responses from the 260 active members of the Tennessee Gang Investigators Association. Respondents reported a mean of 11% of the gang members in their jurisdictions had military training. The Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve were identified as the largest sources of MTGMs, and the Bloods, Crips, and Gangster Disciples were most represented.
There was a statistically significant positive correlation between MTGM presence percent score and jurisdiction size. There was also a statistically significant positive correlation between MTGM presence percent score and the distance from the nearest military installation (computed).
Recommendations included that military leadership conduct cumulative tracking and analysis, and apply an all-hands approach to identifying gang members in the military. When there is a decrease in gang-related activity, solutions should be identified. Military leadership should examine all suspected gang members and policy makers should identify gangs and related groups as Security Threat Groups.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The suspects allegedly sold $6,000 worth of weapons, including AK-47s. It is illegal to possess an AK-47 without U.S. government permits. More arrests may be made, authorities say.
Three former U.S. Marines and two others were arrested on suspicion of selling illegal assault weapons to Los Angeles gang members, federal officials announced Tuesday.
The arrests capped a yearlong investigation into an elaborate scheme to transfer heavy weapons, including AK-47s, to San Fernando Valley-based gang members. Earlier this month, officials from several law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, raided the San Clemente home of former Marine Adam Andrew Gitschlag, 28. He was arrested, and authorities confiscated boxes of automatic weapons and rifles.
Authorities allege that on June 23 the suspects sold $6,000 worth of weapons to a person they thought was connected to the street gang. The sale took place at an L.A.-area post office parking lot, where one of the suspects worked. One of those involved in the sale was a law-enforcement informant.
The five men are charged with five counts each of having unlawful assault weapons, including four AK-47s and an AR-15 assault rifle.
Officials have not said where the Marines had been based or how many weapons they allegedly sold. They said the investigation is continuing and that more arrests may be made.
"We are pleased with the outcome of this case," said John A. Torres, special agent in charge of the ATF's Los Angeles field division, in a statement. "These arrests show that there are people still illegally trafficking in firearms to gang members for profit. ATF will continue with our mission in keeping the public safe by investigating all firearm-related violent crimes and arresting those that place the public in danger."
In addition to Gitschlag, officials on Monday arrested two other ex-Marines, Jose Smith Pacheco, 31, of Montebello and Miguel A. Ortiz, 49, of Northridge. Two other suspects were also arrested: Edwin Cano, 33, of Northridge and Christopher John Thomas, 32, of Van Nuys. Cano faces two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. Prosecutors say Thomas, Ortiz and Pacheco have pleaded not guilty. Gitschlag and Cano are expected to be arraigned at a later date.
If convicted, each defendant could get up to 20 years in state prison.
The arrests come a week after a Navy SEAL from Coronado and two other men were charged with selling prohibited firearms, including AK-47 assault rifles from Iraq and Afghanistan, to undercover federal agents.
The three suspects allegedly sold 18 AK-47s and 14 other firearms to undercover ATF agents. The Russian-designed AK-47 can fetch a high price on the illicit market, officials said. The weapons were smuggled into the U.S. from Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. military personnel, according to federal documents.
It is illegal to possess an AK-47 without a permit from the U.S. government. It is also illegal to engage in firearms dealing without a license.
In the case of the Marines, it's unclear exactly how the suspects obtained the cache of firearms. A photo taken by the San Clemente Times on Nov. 2, when officials served search warrants at Gitschlag's home, shows ATF officials hauling out loads of weapons and placing them in boxes.
Most of the defendants could not be reached for comment. In an interview with the Associated Press, Gitschlag denied any wrongdoing and said the weapons were part of his private collection.
"I did not sell any gang members any weapons," he said. "I love my country with all my heart. I would never expect my government to do this."
Friday, August 6, 2010
. . . of concern are the types of weapons that are now found on the streets of many cities. For example, in Palm Beach County, Florida, a suspect bailed out of his car after a high-speed chase and successfully evaded capture. The trunk contained full body armor and several weapons, including a customized .50-caliber sniper rifle capable of penetrating the engine block of an automobile. The driver was later determined to be a known assassin wanted by Interpol. The officer’s 9-mm handgun would have been no match should a shootout have occurred.16 Unfortunately, this event can no longer be considered unique. Similarly, fully automatic weapons, though illegal in most jurisdictions, are increasingly getting into the hands of gang members and experienced criminals. (7)
Operating coast to coast in the U.S., Latin American gangs pose a significant threat to local, state, and federal LEAs. The law enforcement operations required to counter these narcoterrorist threats increasingly take on the appearance of military SOF missions. (40)
Of concern to law enforcement is the sophistication of many of these gangs. The old motorcycle gangs, such as the Outlaws and Hells Angels, are alive and well, but have learned to stay below the radar of police agencies. Instead they are entering the business world in both white and gray enterprises. Working in white collar crime is less conspicuous, and members who cross the line and attract attention may face severe penalties. The rule is, “Do not irritate law enforcement.” 115 However, as the cartel gangs become more active, it is highly likely that friction will occur between them and the older, more established gangs.
Since drugs are the primary funding source for terrorism, eruptions of violence are increasingly likely to take place in American cities. Currently, much of the competition for drug markets produces intergang violence, which does occasionally involve injury or deaths of innocent bystanders. While undesirable, such situations are manageable by existing LEAs. However, if
significant escalation occurs and/or the advent of terrorist attacks in which the actors strike multiple targets with the intent on holding buildings of other facilities, then it may be necessary to consider employing SOF elements domestically. Posse Comitatus Act, acknowledged, it would be better to contemplate these options now rather than being called in after the event
has unfolded. It is the expansion of the drug cartels that could easily force such a scenario. (41)
Note that the criminal activities of MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang have risen to the level to attract Congressional attention. The revolving-door aspects of these repeat offenders in narcotrafficking are of great concern.166 Part of scoping this problem is understanding that 20,000 violent street, motorcycle, and prison gangs are operating in the U.S. today.167 According to FBI statistics, that number equates to at least one million gang members; and they engage in a wide range of crimes including robbery, home invasions, identity theft, extortion, and illegal narcotics.168
Listed by the FBI, the largest gangs are as follows:
a. 18th Street Gang—30,000 to 50,000 members in the U.S.
b. Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation
c. Asian Boyz—2,000 members, mostly Vietnamese and Cambodian
e. Bloods—30,000 members in 123 cities
f. Crips—30,000 to 35,000 members in 221 cities
g. Florencia 13—3,000 members, a Mexican gang in Southern California
h. Fresno Bulldogs—5,000 to 6,000 members in Central California
i. Gangster Disciples—25,000 to 50,000 members in 31 states
j. Latin Disciples—2,000 members
k. Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)—50,000 members worldwide, 10,000 in
l. Sureños and Norteños—a Latino prison confederation
m. Tango Blast—14,000 member in Texas prisons
n. Tiny Rascal Gangsters—5,000 to 10,000 members, considered the
most violent Asian gang
o. United Blood Nation—7,000 to 15,000, started in Rikers prison in
p. Vice Lord Nation—30,000 to 35,000 members.
All of these gangs have members who have been in the military.169 When they return to their gangs on the street, their knowledge of weapons and tactics poses a significant threat to LEAs. While having gang members in the military is not new, according to the FBI, the trend is increasing and the population density is above what is found in the civilian sector.170 An
estimated 2 percent of military members have gang affiliation. Despite background security checks, it must be assumed that some number of these members are attracted to, and have become members of, SOF units. (67)
The internal use of military forces, beyond those contemplated in Posse Comitatus, are foreseeable. Groups concerned with stemming illegal immigration have already called,
sending troops to the border. The impact of international gangs, along with instability along the Mexican border, and known infiltration of that zone by terrorists from the Middle East could precipitate a necessity to act. The key factors will be the capabilities of domestic law enforcement and perceived threat to security by the American public. If LEA capabilities to resolve critical situations are exceeded, and Americans feel personally threatened,
the Government may approve use of the military in ways rarely thought about. Should such a situation arise, SOF elements would likely be engaged.
Alexander, John B. (2010). Convergence: Special Operations Forces and Civilian Law Enforcement. Joint Special Operations University. Report 10-6, July 2010. Retrieved from http://www.afio.com/publications/JSOU10-6alexanderConvergence_final1.pdf
Monday, July 19, 2010
Chicago cop who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has warning: Gang members are coming home with military training
Being in a street gang is now forbidden for members of the U.S. armed forces. But you might not guess that if you were to visit U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to soldiers who have recently served there.
Jeffrey Stoleson, a Wisconsin corrections official, returned from Iraq in January with photos of gang graffiti on armored vehicles, latrines and buildings. Stoleson, a sergeant with a National Guard unit, was there for nine months to help the Army set up a prison facility outside Baghdad.
"I saw Maniac Latin Disciples graffiti out of Chicago," Stoleson said, adding that there was a lot of graffiti for Texas and California gangs, as well as Mexican drug cartels.
A Chicago Police officer -- who retired from the regular Army and was recently on a tour of Afghanistan in the Army Reserve -- said Bagram Air Base was covered with Chicago gang graffiti, everything from the Gangster Disciples' pitchfork to the Latin Kings' crown.
"It seems bigger now," said the officer, who previously served a tour in Iraq, where he also saw gang graffiti.
Now back in Chicago, the officer said he has arrested high-level gang members who have served in the military and kept the "Infantryman's bible" -- called the FM 7-8 -- in their homes. The book describes how to run for cover, fire a weapon tactically and do the "three- to five-second rushes" seen in war movies.
"It's scary," he said.
In 2006, Stoleson saw similar graffiti in Iraq during another tour of duty there. That year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on gangs in the military -- and published several of Stoleson's photos of gang graffiti.
Congress eventually banned members of the military from belonging to street gangs. And last November, the Defense Department added the ban to its rules.
Spokesmen for the Army and Defense Department said they could not provide figures on how many soldiers have been thrown out of the military or otherwise disciplined as a result of gang membership.
Stoleson, who stressed he was not speaking for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections or the Army, said it appears the problem is worse than ever. He warned that soldiers who return to gang life back home are especially dangerous because they know military tactics that they can use against the police and the public -- as a Marine did in 2005 when he killed a police officer and wounded three others in a California ambush.
"Gang members are coming home now with one or two tours," he said. "Some were on the field of battle."
Civilian contractors in Iraq are part of the gang problem overseas, Stoleson said. He said he was involved in destroying a large quantity of drugs confiscated from U.S. contractors in Iraq.
Stoleson, who is a member of the International Latino Gang Investigators Association, said some police departments in California are now tracking whether gang members were in the military.
A second Chicago Police officer, who searches homes for drugs and guns, said gang members targeted by his team are sometimes current or former members of the armed forces. That becomes part of the team's pre-raid briefings because the suspect is an increased safety risk with military training, the officer said.
"We recently arrested a guy in the reserves for crack [cocaine]," the officer said. "He was a gang-banger."
Stoleson said that, on his previous tour in Iraq, he was friends with a soldier who associated with the Maniac Latin Disciples when he grew up in Chicago.
"We talked a lot about it. He said the military was the only way he could break free," Stoleson said.
But those aren't the people Stoleson worries about.
"My problem is the guys who go into the military to continue the lifestyle," he said.
T.J. Leyden, a former white supremacist, was one of those guys. He said he recruited fellow members of the Hammerskin Nation into the Marines when he was in the corps in the late 1980s and early 1990s and sent stolen Kevlar body armor and helmets to fellow skinheads back home.
"I wore white supremacist T-shirts, and I hung a swastika flag out of my barracks," said Leyden, who was kicked out of the Marines for drinking and fighting. "I hated America. The only reason I was a Marine was because they were the baddest of the bad."
Leyden, who lives in Utah now, said he quit the white-supremacy movement in 1996 because he was worried "my sons were becoming me."
He began working against the movement and founded Straight Talk Consulting, giving lectures to students and advising the FBI, the National Guard and other organizations about gangs in the military.
Leyden said his informants have told him that skinheads and street gangs are still entrenched in both the regular military and the National Guard.
"The military needs to wake up," he said.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The next Gang Talk Thursday will be June 17th from 3:00 – 4:00 pm Eastern time (rescheduled from May 20th, rescheduled from January).
The Emergence of Hybrid GangsWith an increased national emphasis on homeland security, gang activity has not received the attention it did even a decade ago. The results of recent nationwide surveys of police indicate that gangs have not decreased or become less dangerous to our communities. On the contrary, as police and community pressure have waned, gangs have gained strength and are more active with controlling the drug trade, recruiting new members, and expanding their reach to more communities. Additionally, police agencies are seeing more hybrid gangs that don't follow traditional organization and operating methods of traditional gangs. Hybridization makes intelligence gathering and dissemination more difficult for people in all facets of the criminal justice system and the community. This webinar was designed to provide an overview of emerging trends in hybrid gang activity.
California Attorney General’s Office Crime and Violence Prevention Center. (2003). Gangs - A COMMUNITY RESPONSE. http://www.safestate.org
National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations. (2005). National Gang Threat Assessment. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/what/2005_threat_assesment.pdf
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2001). Hybrid and Other Modern Gangs. http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov
Thrasher, F.M. (1927). The Gang: A Study of One Thousand Three Hundred Thirteen Gangs in Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
Valdez, A. (2007). Gangs Across America: History and Sociology. San Clemente, CA: Law Tech Publishing.
This bulletin, from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, reviews the chronology of major historical events associated with the emergence of street gangs in each of the four major U.S. geographic regions. (NCJ 230569)
Here's an essay on Leaderless Resistance by Louis Beam.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Gangs in the MilitaryPosted: May 13, 2010 1:35 AM CDT
By Norma Yuriar
Tulare County, Calif. (KMPH News) — Honor, respect and duty to country – three reasons why many valley soldiers are proud to serve, but some recruits are using war tactics they learn in the combat zone on their enemies here in the central valley. One local soldier speaks to KMPH News about his experience and the day he came face to face with a rival gang member in military base in Germany.
"My rank is Staff Sergeant, active Army — Walter Huerta," before Staff Sgt. Huerta was representing red, white and blue he was claiming, a different shade — the color of a notorious gang in Tulare County.
"My teenage life was basically all gang banging."
The 26–year old grew up in Orosi and spent most of his teenage years on probation, expelled from school for fighting, busted for selling drugs and left his mark all over town as a member of the Norteno Criminal Street Gang.
"It finally came down to the point where – at the time my girlfriend was pregnant – and I ended up over–dosing on Meth. I was rushed to the hospital; it was a wake up call. It took a near death experience for me to make a grown–up decision to join the military and get out of here and so that's what I did," Huerta said.
For the first time in 17–years, Huerta says he felt like he was heading on the right path.
"When I finally finished basic training, I got to my unit in Germany," but even overseas, his former life was staring right back.
"I get there and he looks at me up and down and he tells me, where are you from?"
The young soldier (seventeen at the time) was placed in the same platoon as a rival gang member.
"He told me – hey, I don't like you. I said you can like me or not, but I'm going to be with you for the next three years of our life," Huerta said. "The next thing I know is we are outside and we are fighting, two American soldiers in Germany and we fighting each other."
Although, Huerta was ready to make changes for the better – others gang members were not. Like in the case of 19–year old Andres Raya, an active–duty Marine and suspected gang member. Investigators say Raya used "military–style shooting" to kill a police officer near Modesto in 2005.
Sgt. Howard Stevenson, a 23–year veteran of the Ceres Police Department didn't have a chance.
"In this case, this guy was a killer hiding in a United States Marine Corps Uniform," Retired Ceres Police Officer Sam Ryno said.
Raya was cornered and killed in a firefight with officers. Because of this incident – five years ago — law enforcement agencies across the valley are training their officers to respond to a new kind of threat; gangster with military expertise.
"Our swat teams consistently have ongoing training in urban warfare, mountainous warfare and tactical training in situations just like that – the disadvantage to law enforcement is that they are becoming familiar with defensible tactics that we would use when confronted with a threatening situation," Tulare County Sheriff's Department Capt. Mike Boudreaux said.
The Tulare County Sheriff's Department is beefing up efforts to combat growing gang violence. Capt. Boudreaux says deputies are seeing more modified weapons on the streets "...only those that are familiar with how to dismantle or rearrange the weaponry are those that are coming out of the military with that type of training."
Sgt. Huerta says soldiers don't hide their gang affiliation when they're overseas or even on base.
"I saw a little youngster one time, I could tell he just got out of basic training and he had a blue rag hanging out of his pocket and we are on military post. I said do you really need to go out with that blue rag hanging out of your pocket? You understand you're in the military now, you joined the military to get out of that."
US Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Jarrell Smith says standards to enlist are getting stricter.
"We don't what that in the United States Army either and so we try to weed them out the best we can to prevent those guys from getting into the US Army and corrupting our organization," Smith said.
Anyone with a "gang" or "hatred" tattoo can not join and felony charges are also out of the question. But, there are cracks in every system.
"There really isn't a way to keep them out," Smith said. "If they have markings, like tattoos that's how we can tell and we do a background check, there is always some way for us to tell if you have some sort of affiliation."
As for Staff Sgt. Huerta — he and that rival gang member in the same platoon, they are now best friends spreading the same message.
"I would say the Army definitely saved my life because the path that I was on, it was going no where and it was going no where fast."
Huerta's big brother Joshua, a Gang Counselor in Tulare County agrees.
"Yes, definitely that's what happened, once he got opportunity. He was already born into it. He was a soldier from birth. He's allowing the people of California to gang bang because he's fighting for your freedom, there's a real enemy out there – the people that are trying to destroy the US."
Staff Sgt. Huerta says he wants to become a gang officer when he retires from the U.S. Army in three years.
REPORTER CAN BE REACHED AT NYURIAR@KMPH.COM OR (559) 453–8850.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Although gang members constitute only a fraction of military personnel worldwide, they are a significant problem for the military and communities surrounding military bases. Since the early 1990s, the Armed Forces have taken steps to try to gain control the gang problem. The Secretary of the Army’s Task Force on Extremist Activities conducted an investigation in 1996 and found extremist and gang activity in the Army was causing significant security concerns for many soldiers (U.S. Department of Defense, 1996).
Gang members join the military for different reasons.
More at http://www.lawofficer.com/news-and-articles/articles/online/2010/gangs_in_the_military.html
Copy of paper here:
Sunday, March 7, 2010
School leaders need to be able to treat gangs as they would any other group of people that threaten the safety of the students. In the elementary, middle, and high schools, youth who are involved with gangs will often be disruptive or divisive in the classroom. Teachers must be able to respond with respect while still controlling the situation. The School Resource Officers are trained to identify problems -- including the presence of gangs. Work with them. Don't let the kids in the school be terrorized by gang members -- protect them.
2. What should parents do to keep their kids out of gangs?
Parents need to fight the tendency to think "my child would never join a gang" and act as if they want to do everything in their power to keep that from happening. This applies to parents at all socio-economic levels. Parents need to teach their children discipline and respect and the boldness to express individuality. If you sense that your child has something they don't belong having in their possession (gang attire, paraphernalia, guns, knives, drugs, etc.) ask them about it and then follow up by looking through their possessions -- no matter what they think about it. Gangs are not a minor illness that will go away with time. They are a poison that will kill people. If a police officer suspects your child is in a gang -- don't start by denying it, start by trying to see why it might look that way.
Act like a parent -- not a lawyer.
Demand that the local school system stop tolerating the presence of gang members in the schools. Call your elected representatives and public servants regularly and voice your concerns. There are gangs in many of the public schools in Middle Tennessee -- stop sitting idly by and letting them establish a presence in the schools. If the people we vote for and pay to run the schools won't work to keep gangs from taking over the schools -- replace them.
3. What should youths who are being recruited to be in a gang do?
If members of a gang try to recruit you -- make it clear that you are not interested. It is possible to be respectful while declining an offer to join or even affiliate with the gang. These people will act as if they will be your best friends and yet what they will do is help you ruin your life. Gang members rarely become productive citizens and when they do it is only after they leave the gang - many are dead before they are old enough to be parents. If you don't know what you want to do with your life -- it's better to do nothing than to join a gang (even if they don't call themselves a "gang").
4. What should members of the community (police, churches, neighborhood groups, etc.) do about gangs?
Community leaders need to respond to gangs as if they are poisonous to the welfare and safety of all members of the community -- because they are. The gang mentality is being shared through movies, music, and Internet communication methods, and will reach the youth. Members of the community need to be vigilant in their search for indicators of gang activity and find things for the youth to do other than "hanging out" with a bunch of thugs. Avoid denial at all costs -- if someone acts like they are in a gang they probably are. There's no need to support what others are doing when what they are doing hurts them and everyone that comes in contact with them. Being a gang member is not a protected class of society - treat gangs like you want them to go away -- and they will.
Carter Smith is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and a founding board member of the Tennessee Gang Investigators Association (TNGIA). MTSU and TNGIA are co-hosting a Youth Gang - Organized Crime Symposium March 11-13, 2010. The event is open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/fire
More at The Tennessean.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Low-level gang members barely make pocket change, said Carter Smith, a gang expert and assistant professor in the criminal justice department at Middle Tennessee State University.
Compare the structure of a gang to a fast-food restaurant. The local manager doesn't make much, but the guy who owns three or four McDonald's can do pretty well."The bottom line is it's business," Smith said. "It's just a matter of what risk you're willing to take."
Carter Smith, a parent and gang expert who lives in Franklin and works as a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, said parents who think their kids are immune because they live in an upscale neighborhood or don't fit the typical gang-member profile may be at risk of losing their sons or daughters to gangs."
People in a gang may target them because they have a car, they have money, and they have accesses to places the members of the gang may not have," Smith said.
Monday, February 22, 2010
3:30 PM – 4:45 PM
AGING OUT OR EVOLVING: SHOULD GANG RESEARCHERS COUNT JUVENILE AND ADULT GANG MEMBERS TOGETHER?
Moderator: Carter F. Smith, Middle Tennessee State University
Discussants: Gregg W. Etter, University of Central Missouri;
D. Lee Gilbertson, Saint Cloud State University;
Jeffery Rush, Austin Peay State University;
Al Valdez, University of California - Irvine
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Rocket launcher (top center) among 14 weapons seized by CPD Police photo
Nothing good can come from street gang members in possession of a military-style rocket launcher, and Chicago police have made sure nothing bad will come of it either.
The department's Organized Crime Division confiscated the launcher and 13 other weapons after executing several search warrants on the West Side.
Charged in the case is Andre Tatum, 41, of the 800 block of North Lawler. Police say he's a member of the 4-Corner Hustler's street gang. He's charged with 11 counts of misdemeanor firearms possession and one count of misdemeanor possession of ammunition.
A spokesperson from News Affairs could not say why the State's Attorney's Office approved misdemeanor as opposed to felony charges. If Tatum is not a convicted felon and has a valid FOID card, that may be two reasons the charges aren't upgraded.
In Tatum's home alone, police recovered 5 semi-automatic handguns, 2 shotguns, 4 rifles and 15 boxes of ammo.
Another warrant executed at a different location turned up 3 additional weapons, including the LAW Rocket. LAW stands for light anti-tank weapon and it's a one-shot only weapon, according to a CPD press release. I haven't seen any tanks rolling down the streets of Chicago recently, though with this type of weaponry out there, maybe law enforcement should consider investing in a few.
February 13, 8:58 AMChicago Crime ExaminerDeborah O'Malley http://www.examiner.com/x-7520-Chicago-Crime-Examiner~y2010m2d13-Antitank-rocket-launcher-among-14-weapons-seized-on-the-West-Side-of-Chicago
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By Timothy Roberts
Members of the El Paso City Council appear to favor the purchase of over 1,000 assault rifles for the police department, which says it needs them to protect the city from increasingly better armed criminals.
The council will be asked on Tuesday to approve the purchase of 1,145 assault rifles at a cost of $772,646. That would supply all patrol officers with the civilian version of the M-4 military rifle. The lowest bid is from recommended bidder GT Distributors Inc. of Austin.
The money would come from a federal grant of up to $899,287, funds targeted at stimulating the economy.
The case for the purchase is usually couched in terms of the drug-cartel violence in Juárez.
“We definitely don’t want our police officers to be outgunned by any cartel operatives who might come over to El Paso,” says El Paso Mayor John Cook.
But in the wake of shootings at Fort Hood and incidents here involving soldiers, some council members say they are also concerned about errant soldiers.
Peter Pacillas, assistant chief for training and special operations, does not single out soldiers for concern. He says, “Anybody who has the capability of using a high-caliber weapon is a concern for us.”
Three incidents in El Paso involving soldiers last year underscore those concerns. In each, soldiers used handguns, but police say the logical defense would be a rifle capable of shooting accurately over a significant distance.
Last April, a Chapin High School student was killed by a solider who was firing from across the street. The soldier, according to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, used a handgun. He was charged with murder.
In August, a solider was charged with shooting another solider at an El Paso bar. That, too involved a hand gun, according to the CID.
But perhaps the most notorious case cam in June, when an 18-year-old soldier stationed at Fort Bliss was charged in connection with the contract killing of a Mexican drug cartel lieutenant who also was a police informant. According to the El Paso Police Department, Michael Jackson Apodaca used a semi-automatic handgun.
According to statistics kept by the police department, the total number of guns seized by the police during searches and arrests has dropped over the last three years. What is worrisome, police say, is the increase in the percentage of those guns that are automatic or semi-automatic. Being able to fire more lead in a short period of time makes the criminal more dangerous.
Police seized 287 weapons in 2007, 265 in 2008 and only 253 in 2009. But the percentage of those weapons that are automatic or semi-automatic rose from 46.7 percent in 2007, to 50.2 percent in 2008, and to 59.7 percent in 2009.
“I feel comfortable with the request,” says Beto O’Rourke, city representative for the Westside District 8. “We are not trying to outgun the people with guns in our community, but to protect the public.”
Susie Byrd, District 2 representative, says she still has some questions.
“You always want police to approach any situation with an abundance of caution,” she says. “Having big assault rifles might embolden less cautious behavior.”
But she says she also worries about the violence across the border and the possible impact of military gangs.
According to the National Gang Threat Assessment for 2009, issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of gang members who are in or who have come out of the military is unknown.
But, the report says, “the threat that (gang members with military training) pose to law enforcement is potentially significant, particularly if gang members trained in weapons, tactics and planning pass this instruction on to other gang members.”
A spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division acknowledges the presence of criminal gangs in the military, but says the problem is not rampant.
“We certainly recognize this is a serious issue, and each incident or credible allegation will be fully investigated,” says Chris Grey, Army CID chief of public affairs.
The population increase caused by expansion at Fort Bliss may become a factor in crime levels, says city Rep. Steve Ortega, District 7.
“If you add to that a population coming back from an extremely violent environment integrating with the civilian population, we want to make sure that the police department has all the resources it needs to make us the safest city in the nation.”
For West Side District 1 Rep. Ann Morgan Lilly, the decision was relatively easy.
“If the police are asking for them (the assault rifles) and need them, that’s OK,” she says. “(Police Chief) Greg Allen never asks for anything he doesn’t need.”
If council approves the purchase, the M-4s could be here in 90 days. Police officials say all officers will receive 40 hours of training before putting the weapons in the locked racks of their patrol car trunks.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Under the revised instructions,contained in the NEW DoD Instruction:
"Military personnel must not actively advocate supremacist doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin or that advance,encourage, or advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights."
And then there's a very short part about gang affiliations:
"Military personnel must reject active participation in criminal gangs pursuant to section 544 of Public Law 110-181 and in other organizations that advocate supremacist doctrine, ideology, or causes; attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin; advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity; or otherwise engage in efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.
Active participation in such gangs or organizations is prohibited.
Active participation includes, but is not limited to, fundraising; demonstrating or rallying; recruiting, training, organizing, or leading members; distributing material (including posting on-line); or otherwise engaging in activities in furtherance of the objective of such gangs or organizations that are detrimental to good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment or are incompatible with military service."That's it -- just wordsmithing . . . wow, and we waited a year and a half for that!
As noted in Can you prevent membership in organized criminal groups if you are the SecDef?, H.R. 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Section 544 - became law (Public Law 110-181), and required the Secretary of Defense to prescribe regulations to prohibit the active participation of military personnel in street gangs (National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA], 2008, Sec. 544). The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President back in January 2008, and it took until November 2009 to make it happen.
Yes, I realize there were other priorities, but at least we could do something that had a chance of working.
Legislative efforts to prohibit street gang members from joining the military were initially added to a defense-spending bill (Public Law 110-181, 2008). The legislation included the provision to add active membership in a street gang to the standing prohibition against active group membership by military members in extremist groups. The legislation was intended to extend the prohibitions of Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 1325.6, which has its history in preventing members of organizations considered subversive and openly anti-government from joining the military in the interests of the national security (Executive Order 10450, 1953). The history of this recent legislation demonstrates a lack of understanding of the requirements for limiting the negative impact of gangs on military communities.
Here's the problem.
At the time the directive was initially published in 1969, the DoD was concerned with the infiltration of anti-war and anti-military organizations. The directive focused on dissident and protest activities within the military, and especially on activities such as underground newspapers, on-post demonstrations, and serviceman organizations.
In 1986, the Secretary of Defense updated the directive. The directive's language prohibited "active" participation in "extremist organizations." This comes from language in Executive Order (EO) 11,785 issued in 1953, during the height of the Cold War, when the government feared Communist infiltration. It was later changed to forbid designating any groups as "totalitarian, fascist, Communist, or subversive" and forbade any circulation or publication of a list of such groups.
I was part of a small group of investigators who saw a gang problem in the military in the early 1990s.
We had problems linking the directive to gangs because of it's history (originally launched from an Executive Order (EO 10,450: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/10450.html) prohibiting communist groups from infiltrating, then war protesters, now extremists.
It's pretty clear what actions they wanted to prohibit when they ask "whether the employment or retention in employment in the Federal service of the person being investigated is clearly consistent with the interests of the national security. . . not limited to:
- (1) Depending on the relation of the Government employment to the national security:
- (i) Any behavior, activities, or associations which tend to show that the individual is not reliable or trustworthy.
- (ii) Any deliberate misrepresentations, falsifications, or omissions of material facts.
- (iii) Any criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, habitual use of intoxicants to excess, drug addiction, sexual perversion.
- (iv) Any illness, including any mental condition, of a nature which in the opinion of competent medical authority may cause significant defect in the judgment or reliability of the employee, with due regard to the transient or continuing effect of the illness and the medical findings in such case.
- (v) Any facts which furnish reason to believe that the individual may be subjected to coercion, influence, or pressure which may cause him to act contrary to the best interests of the national security.
- (2) Commission of any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, or sedition, or attempts thereat or preparation therefore, or conspiring with, or aiding or abetting, another to commit or attempt to commit any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, or sedition.
- (3) Establishing or continuing a sympathetic association with a saboteur, spy, traitor, seditionist, anarchist, or revolutionist, or with an espionage or other secret agent or representative of a foreign nation, or any representative of a foreign nation whose interests may be inimical to the interests of the United States, or with any person who advocates the use of force or violence to overthrow the government of the United States or the alteration of the form of government of the United States by unconstitutional means.
- (4) Advocacy of use of force or violence to overthrow the government of the United States, or of the alteration of the form of government of the United States by unconstitutional means.
- (5) Knowing membership with the specific intent of furthering the aims of, or adherence to and active participation in, any foreign or domestic organization, association, movement, group, or combination of persons (hereinafter referred to as organizations) which unlawfully advocates or practices the commission of acts of force or violence to prevent others from exercising their rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State, or which seeks to overthrow the Government of the United States or any State or subdivision thereof by unlawful means.
- (6) Intentional, unauthorized disclosure to any person of security information, or of other information disclosure of which is prohibited by law, or willful violation or disregard of security regulations.
- (7) Performing or attempting to perform his duties, or otherwise acting, so as to serve the interests of another government in preference to the interests of the United States.
- (8) Refusal by the individual, upon the ground of constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, to testify before a congressional committee regarding charges of his alleged disloyalty or other misconduct.
There is and should be a difference between keeping up with people who think that folks of another race are worthless and those who form groups with the intent of committing crime . . .
So now the DoD Reissues DoD Directive 1325.6 as a DoD Instruction. It also contains prohibitions against writing Web sites, BLOGS, and other electronic communications) during duty hours. I can definitely see a connection!
What do you think?
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Carter F. Smith
- I prefer to be called Carter, though I have grown accustomed to answering to most any variation that remains respectful.
I learned from the UPS manual that a leader does not need to remind others of authority by use of title. Knowledge, performance, and capacity should be adequate evidence of position and leadership.