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

Perceptions of gang investigators regarding presence of military trained gang members

The problem addressed was the presence of military-trained gang members in civilian communities. The purpose was to determine the perceived presence of military-trained gang members and to examine whether there was a relationship between the perceptions of gang investigators regarding that presence and the size of their jurisdictions, proximity of jurisdictions to military installations, and extent to which investigators participated in anti-gang activities.

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

Ex-Marines allegedly sold assault rifles to L.A. gang members

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.

November 10, 2010|By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

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."

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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