The Gang Threat
How Big is the Problem?
The FBI says that "gangs are morphing, multiplying, migrating and entrenching themselves in our inner cities, suburbs and rural communities. They are selling drugs to our kids, shooting up our neighborhoods, invading our homes, robbing our banks and stores, stealing our identities, our money, and instilling fear and violence everywhere they go."
They are violent and are responsible for committing crimes from assaults to murder using firearms, machetes, fists and blunt objects to intimidate rivals, law enforcement, and the general public. (4)
They are sprawling our highways, the Internet, and our communities intimidating and infecting all they come in contact with. In some communities, they are responsible for as much as a staggering 80 percent of all crimes. (1)
The National Alliance of Gang Investigators Association (NAGIA) states "The scourge of gangs is a clear and present danger to our internal national security and adversely impacts the quality of life within our communities with violence, drugs and associated criminal activities." (5)
Dangerous Criminal Gang Activity and Violence is Getting Worse
There are about 20,000 violent street, motorcycle and prison gangs in the U.S. today containing approximately one million criminally active members - 147,000 of which are currently incarcerated in federal, state, and local correctional facilities. (2)
While not all gangs are sophisticated and well organized, they all use violence to control neighborhoods and perpetuate their illegal money-making activities. Gangs have also become the primary retail distributors of most illicit drugs. (2)
Types of Criminal Activities Gang Members Commit
- alien smuggling
- armed robbery
- auto theft
- drive-by shootings
- drug trafficking
- firearms offenses
- home invasions
- identity theft
- insurance fraud
- mortgage fraud
- prostitution rings
- weapons trafficking
Gangs continue to pose a serious threat to public safety in many communities throughout the Houston area and the United States.
Gangs Are Not Just an Inner City or Urban Problem
Gang movement to suburban areas can be attributed to several factors including the breakdown of traditional hierarchical gang structures resulting from law enforcement targeting of gang leaders, an abundance of wholesale illicit drug suppliers, and the expectation of high profits from new suburban drug operations.
Other reasons include an effort to expand the gang's influence, expanding drug distribution territories, recruiting new members, hiding from law enforcement, and escaping other gangs. As a result, many suburban and rural communities are experiencing ever increasing gang-related crime and violence because of expanding gang influence.
The movement of gang members to suburban areas result in territorial conflicts between rival gang members and competition for the new territory - suburbia. As gangs grow regionally and nationally, they will continue to meet with resistance by other gangs possibly resulting in drive-by shootings, homicides and other violent crimes - now in suburban communities.
Gangs Are Like Pirates
Gangs maintain their criminal operations and lifestyles primarily through drug distribution. Members typically launder profits from criminal activities through front companies such as clothing stores, beauty salons, and music recording companies. They commingle illicit proceeds earned from drug sales with income from these businesses to pay their living expenses and the purchase of luxury goods such as vehicles and jewelry. They are like pirates - they commit war-like acts and engage in robbery and criminal violence as a means to sustain themselves. (3)
What is a Gang? >>
The Shift to Organized Crime >>
(1) Congressional Testimony Robert Mueller, Director FBI 9/16/09
(2) National Gang Accessment 2009
(3) National Gang Threat Assessment - Criminal Activities, January 2009
(4) FBI - The Gang Threat - Get Educated 2/6/2009
(5) The National Alliance of Gang Investigators Association (NAGIA) 2007 World Gang Control Strategy Summit Report)