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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

FBI Says Gangs Infiltrating the US Military


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The U.S. military is facing a "significant criminal threat" from gangs, including prison and biker gangs, whose members have found their way into the ranks, according to an FBI-led investigation. Some gang members get into the military to escape the streets, but then end up reconnecting once in, while others target the services specifically for the combat and weapons training, the National Gang Intelligence Center says in a just-released 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment/Emerging Trends. Whatever the reasons, it's a bad mix. ""Gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of  their distinctive weapons and combat training skills and their ability to transfer these skills to fellow gang members," the report states. Gang members have been reported in every branch of the armed forces, though a large proportion of them have been affiliated with the Army, the Army Reserves or Army National Guard, it says. The gang report is the third by the NGIC since 2005 and includes the most information yet on gangs in the military. The 2005 report made no mention of gang members in the armed forces, while the 2009 report devoted two paragraphs to the problem and listed 19 gangs said to include military-trained members. The NGIC is a multi-agency operation -- federal, state and local – headed up by the FBI to bring together intelligence on gangs and gang activity. The latest report devotes four pages to the problem and lists about 50 gangs with members with military backgrounds. In the past three years, it states, law enforcement officials in more than 100 jurisdictions have encountered, detained or arrested a gang member who was on active-duty or a former servicemember. Younger gang members, who do not have arrest records, are reportedly making attempts to join the military, and also attempting to conceal any gang affiliation, including tattoos, during the recruitment process. And given the large U.S. military footprint overseas, gangs and gang dependents have found their way onto bases from Japan to Germany and Afghanistan and Iraq, where the center recorded instances of gang graffiti on military vehicles. The report also specifically relates the 2010 cases of three former Marines arrested in Los Angeles for selling illegal assault weapons the Florencia 13 gang, and a U.S. Navy SEAL charged in Colorado with smuggling military-issued machine guns and other weapons from Iraq and Afghanistan into the U.S. "Gang members armed with high-powered weapons and knowledge and expertise acquired from employment in law enforcement, corrections or the military may pose an increasing nationwide threat, as they employ these tactics and weapons against law enforcem4nt officials, rival gang members and civilians," the NGIC report says. The NGIC assessment is not the first to look at the rising problems of gang members in the military. The Army's Criminal Investigation Division has done a number of them over the years. It found the number of investigations of gang-related violent crimes rising to 9 in 2005, after several years of decline, with just 3 the year before. Most Soldiers found linked to gangs are junior enlisted members, CID found. "Overall, military communities continue to be a more stable, secure and lawful environment than their civilian counterparts, especially given recent access control and other security enhancements," Army CID concluded.


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