Gangs in America…and Beyond: FBI Exec
Outlines Anti-Gang Strategy to Congress
out, even gangs have gone global. On Wednesday, the House Committee
on International Relations’ Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
held a hearing on rising gang violence across Latin America—and
how it’s not only destabilizing the region but also fueling crime
and violence here in the U.S.
for the FBI was our top criminal investigative executive—Chris
Swecker. He provided plenty of detail on the growing menace of
gangs and our growing efforts to defeat them, including a task
force specifically focused on disrupting and dismantling Mara
Salvatrucha, or MS-13. A few highlights:
gangs are more violent, more organized, and more widespread than
"There are approximately 30,000 gangs, with 800,000 members,
impacting 2,500 communities across the U.S."
are sowing violence and crime in big cities like Los Angeles,
Chicago, and New York, but are also spreading to rural and suburban
gang MS-13—composed mainly of Central American immigrants
from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—"has a significant
presence in Northern Virginia, New York, California, Texas, as
well as places as disparate and widespread as Oregon City, Oregon,
and Omaha, Nebraska." MS-13 is estimated to have some 8,000
to 10,000 hardcore members—and is growing increasingly sophisticated,
widespread, and violent.
National Gang Strategy: it identifies the gangs posing the
greatest danger to American communities and targets them with
the coordinated resources of law enforcement and the same federal
racketeering statutes, intelligence, and investigative techniques
used to defeat organized crime. See the full testimony for a complete
list of the gangs with connections to Central America and Mexico
that we are targeting.
Streets Violent Gang Task Forces (SSVGTF): from 78 to 108
and 20 more planned. Since 1996, the work of the SSVGTFs have
led to nearly 20,000 convictions and the dismantling of more than
Gang Intelligence Center: it will coordinate the national
collection of gang intelligence and help us share it with our
partners around the globe.
MS-13 National Gang Task Force (NGTF): it’s helping to speed
the flow of information and intelligence on MS-13 nationally and
internationally and to coordinate investigations.
In the words
of Subcommittee Chairman Dan Burton, "It is clearly in everyone’s
best interest that we address this problem now, and end the threat
of transnational gang violence in the Western Hemisphere."