A recent report by the FBI highlights the threat of gangs infiltrating the United States military which is posing a threat to law enforcement agencies. The Army, Army Reserves and National Guard have been identified as having members of nearly every major street gang. It is very common among the junior ranks. The presence of gangs is difficult to determine because of the success of gang members in concealing their identity and the reluctance of army officials to report such incidences. Gang members enlist in the military to escape their lifestyle.
They receive weapons and combat training. They are able to obtain access to weapons and explosives. Upon the successful completion of training, they can use their skills against rival gangs or law enforcement officers. Military training can be a useful skill for gangs which could lead to the creation of organized, sophisticated and deadly gangs. There is also the threat of increased attacks on law enforcement officers. Gang membership is a threat to the armed forces because it can interrupt discipline and increase criminal activity inside or outside military installations.
The security of military bases is under threat due to the presence of gang members. They have also engaged in drive by shootings, vandalism, assaults, extortion, drug trafficking, robberies and other violent crimes near military installations. Gang members have used active duty service members to sell drugs. The infiltration of the United States army by gang members poses a threat to local law enforcement agencies. It also threatens the national security of the United States of America (Anderson, 1994).
Youth Gangs Across The Globe From L. A. to El Salvador Most gangs are created to form a sense of power and control. All types of problems are presented to the youths of today growing up in major cities. Before being so eager to jump to conclusions, we must learn to try to understand these problems, or we will never find a solution to them. Gang members are out there trying to find a family that ...
Gang members who leave the US army can use their military training and combat skills against rival gang members and law enforcement officers. The FBI report says that retired and current gang affiliated soldiers use their combat skills against law enforcement officers who do not have the training to fight them. The screening process of the United States army is not perfect because gang members have been known to enlist in the military by using fraudulent documents. They also do not mention any past convictions. Many of the applicants were convicted as juveniles and their criminal records are not available for military recruiters.
The lack of any criminal records or visible tattoos usually results in a gang member gaining admission in the military. The children of military personnel are targeted by gang members for membership because of their isolation, vulnerability and need for friends. The infiltration of gangs inside the United States army temporarily increases the number of recruits. But the longer term threat is that retired gang affiliated soldiers would have deadly training and combat skills to disrupt community life. They could pose a lethal threat by their violence and military expertise.
Most gang members have a fanatical loyalty towards their gang which might interfere in their ability to act in the best interest of their country during a conflict. This also leads to the threat of jeopardizing the lives of other soldiers in combat operations by gang members (Alonso, 2006) Gang related activity in the US Armed Forces has been increasing despite the fact that gang members form only a fraction of military personnel. The presence of gang members can disrupt the discipline and combat operations of the military. It can also cause low morale and disciplinary problems.
It can lead to the facilitation of crime on and off military installations. Research conducted by the FBI says that every major street gang like Hells Angels, Latin Kings, Mexican Mafia, Vice Lords and white supremacist groups have members in military installations both inside and outside the United States. These members have been found to be in every branch of the military but are most common in junior ranks. The US Army has also recorded an increase in gang related criminal activity in 2006. In 2006, the FBI recorded an estimated forty Folk Nation gang members stationed at the Fort Bliss army installation in Texas.
Prison Gangs The fight for survival within the United States prison system has created a subculture the breeds racism, hate, and violence. About two and a half years ago, a young man named William King was sentenced to death by lethal injection for his participation in the murder of James Byrd Jr. James, a middle aged black man from Jasper County, Texas, was bound at the ankles and dragged behind ...
Many of them have been involved in robberies, murder, assaults and extortion (Bakeer, 2006).
The Fort Hood army installation in Texas has identified an estimate forty gang members who have been involved in various crimes. A Fort Hood soldier was convicted of two robberies in 2005. Fort Lewis in Washington has identified an estimated one hundred and thirty gang and extremist group members. Many of them are believed to be involved in criminal activity inside the base. Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Campbell in Kentucky have also registered a modest increase in gang related incidents in the past years (District Attorney, 2006).
Military affiliated gang members have emerged as a major problem in the United States of America. There is diversity amongst gangs. They vary according to ethnic composition, criminal activities and stability. Gangs evolve due to external pressure, intervention and indirect factors like population change and economic conditions. Some communities deny the existence of gangs while others have cracked down on them harshly. Military affiliated gang members have perpetrated crimes such as murder, prostitution, gambling, extortion, arson, theft, etc. Military affiliated gang members breed an environment of fear.
It prevents elderly, women and children from moving safely. New laws and tougher penalties are the first step towards reducing the recruitment of gang members in the military. Proper screening measures in the military can successfully prevent gang members from joining the military. Another important step to solving the problem of gangs is to increase safety for witnesses. Preventing gang members from meeting each other can also be another effective step to crush gangs inside the military. Cities and towns can coordinate their efforts with the military to crack down on gangs and control violence.
Let's say you " re by yourself on the subway in New York City. You get on and it's not that crowded, there's a bunch of open seats. As you look around, you notice that the car is filled with mainly high school aged kids, mostly boys. On one side there is a spot next to a bunch of African Americans, on the other side it's a posse of Asians. Okay, so where are you going to sit Next to the Asian's I ...
Gang members must be arrested and incarcerated. The congregation of gang members must be disrupted by military authorities. The military’s surveillance equipment and wiretapping equipment can play an important role in crushing the gangs. Accurate data regarding gang incidents on military installations is limited because they army is not required to report criminal offenses to the FBI. The FBI has used unofficial sources to document gang related incidents in military installations (Cesareti, 2005).
There are many motivations for gang members to join the US army.
They might be to escape their current lifestyle or environment. Other members join the military to escape prison, receive combat training, and learn basic first aid skills. They might take advantage of their military life to commit crimes. After discharging from the military they can transfer their military combat and weapons expertise to the gang. In May 2005, an army recruit assigned to the US Army Finance Battalion was discharged for engaging in drug distribution. The FBI also says that many gang members serving in Iraq are being taught urban warfare combat techniques.
The Defense Criminal Investigative Service has reported about gang members increasing their presence near US military installations. Gang members use the military to recruit and spread their gang affiliation. They can recruit inside an installation once a gang member is enlisted. Recruitment of soldiers can also occur off base by civilian gang members visiting the installation. Military recruiters engage in criminal violations using aggressive recruiting tactics and document falsification. Many criminal courts in the United States allow gang members to enter the service as an alternative to incarceration.
Many gang members have been recruited while facing criminal charges or probation charges. Many army recruiters conceal the affiliation of gangs to help boost their enlistment numbers. In August 2006, a Hispanic was allowed to join the Marines despite an indictment for racketeering. The court had not convicted the person which was the reason why he was recruited in the military (Cohen, 2006).
Within the past two decades, beginning in the early 1980's a growing concern has been focused on what can be considered a social epidemic among the youth of our nation. This social distress stems directly from the rising number and over all abundance of youth gangs throughout the country. Gang mentality and social deviance of this form has been noticed and documented in this country for decades ...
There have been other incidents of gang members being recruited into the military while undergoing trials for crimes. A gang member became affiliated with the military while being tried for attacking a New York police officer in 2005.
He was told to hide his links with gangs. In 2005, a Californian probation officer was lobbied by the Army recruiters to support early probation terminations for gang affiliated member to facilitate their military recruitment. A career in the military allows gang members to travel and recruit people for their crimes. Gang members might be placed in regions with an untapped drug or weapons market. A number of US based gang members and gang graffiti have been documented in US bases abroad. Sources from law enforcement agencies have reported the presence of Black Disciple, Hells Angels, Latin Kings, Mexican Mafia members in Iraq.
In 2005, a gang member was killed during a gang ceremony at Kasierslauten Army Installation in Germany according to the FBI. A soldier and suspected gang member stabbed a man to death at a nightclub while being stationed in Weisbaden, Germany. Graffiti from gangs like Gangster Disciple, Latin King, Crips, etc have been found in US based in Germany and Japan. The FBI says that many current and former Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members have military expertise in firearms and explosives. A number of Hells Angels members are serving in Iraq.
Gang members have been known to increase criminal activity inside and outside US military installations. They can use their military knowledge, skills and weapons to commit and facilitate various crimes. Domestic disturbances, assaults, extortion and money laundering are some of the crimes which gang members engage in (Cohen, 2006).
Gang members in the military are assigned to support units which have access to weapons and explosives. They can steal items by improperly documenting supply orders or falsifying paperwork. Law enforcement agents have recovered weapons and explosives which were issued by the US military.
Undercover government investigators purchased sensitive military equipment like launcher mounts, signal converters and body armor from a contractor. Gang members were suspected in facilitating the smuggling of military issued weapons to third parties. In 2006, an imprisoned American soldier and active gang member identified sixty to seventy gang affiliated personnel in his unit which were allegedly involved in the theft and sale of military equipment and weapons. Many sergeants are gang members who have been involved in stealing and selling ammunition and grenades.
Both in the civilian and the military population, the issue of legal drinking age has been a contentious issue. The proposal to lower the minimum drinking age among members of the military in different states has attracted a lot of debate all over the United States. The basic argument has been individuals who are able to defend the country and participate in combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq ...
A former US Marine and Gangster Disciple member detailed how it was easy for soldiers to steal military equipment and use them on the streets. A National Guard soldier also allegedly smuggled several machine guns from Iraq in 2005 and sold them to a gun dealer in Georgia. An Army sergeant was caught mailing an AK-47 to his father in Washington State in 2004. The soldier was reported to have been a member of a white supremacist group. Military weapons and supplies are stolen by gang affiliated military personnel to gang members or criminals.
Law enforcement officials have encountered active service members selling stolen military weapons, supplies and drugs to civilian gang members and criminals. Military weaponry is sold at public gun shows by gang affiliated military personnel (Cohen, 2006).
In May 2005, eight US soldiers were convicted of participating in a widespread bribery and extortion conspiracy. Several military personnel stationed in Colombia were caught while transporting forty six kilograms of cocaine to El Paso, Texas. A series of commando style bank robberies hit Washington DC in 2004 in which automatic assault rifles were used.
These weapons were smuggled from Iraq by a soldier and sold to a gang member. Despite massive post 9/11 homeland security measures, civilian gang members and retired soldiers with gang affiliation are allowed to access military installations to visit friends, bars and nightclubs. This process helps in easing the collaboration and recruitment of soldiers and dependant children by civilian gang members. This can also lead to increased criminal activity inside and outside the US bases. Gang members recruited in the US military find themselves among strangers.
These results in many of them joining forces with rival gang members by crossing racial and ethnic boundaries to help each other and commit crimes. Alliances between rival gang members prevent law enforcement officials from prosecuting gang related activity since many judges are not convinced that defendants might be gang members simply based on association with one. Military authorities recently reported incidents of rival gangs such as the Gangster Disciples, Bloods and Crips joining forces during service and engaging in gang related criminal activity.
19 April 2002 GANG INTELLIGENCE METHODS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT The American headlines of any large city will site killings on street corners, robberies, assaults, intimidation, and drug interaction. While not all-criminal activity is associated with gangs, the 780, 000 strong members do account for a large majority of the problems that are plaguing America. There is no one-way to stop gang activity in ...
Rival gang members stationed at Fort Bliss have joined forces to commit assaults on civilian gang members. Many gang members have committed acts of aggression towards rival gang members (Cohen, 2006).
It is clear that gang infiltration in the United States military poses a major security threat to local law enforcement agencies. It also poses a threat to the national security of the United States of America. Each military installation must have an active record of gang members serving in each branch of the military.
They must also find out the number of military service dependants on gang members. Another important measure would be to determine which military installations have the most gang members or experience the most gang activity. The incidences of criminal activity perpetrated by gang affiliated service members must be identified. Local law enforcement officers must also determine the incidences of encounter with military trained gang members. The extent of the theft of military weapons and explosives is very important for military and local enforcement officers to find out.
The infiltration of gang members in the US army can be countered by a more vigorous system of verification and enlistment. Proper documentation and fool proof systems for the safety of military equipment and explosives must be ensured in order to prevent the sale and theft of these weapons to civilian gangs. The military enlistment process must make more strict background checks in order to investigate any criminal or gang related background of a potential recruit. Offences like graffiti and vandalism must also be severely punished. Laws can also be initiated which discourage using gang symbols like colors and gestures.
The use of severe punishments can be effective in preventing any criminal activities inside military installations (Cohen, 2006).
The infiltration of gang members inside the US army is a serious threat because many local law enforcement officers are not trained to deal with gang members with military expertise and training. Many gang members join the military for the purpose of receiving military training to be used once they leave the service. Many weapons disappear from military installations and are sold to civilian gang members.
The California prison system is a major source of gang recruitment and organization. The FBI and law enforcement agencies must ensure that the process of recruiting and organizing gang members to infiltrate the US army must be stopped. The US military can ensure a strict process of verification and selection for potential candidates. Many white extremist organizations are also infiltrating the US army to use expertise and training for their ideological purposes. Timothy McVeigh who was the mastermind of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was a Gulf War era war veteran.
He used his military weapons and explosives expertise to engage in a terrorist attack which killed hundreds of people. Gangs can only be stopped if discipline inside military ranks is maintained. Military recruiters must also not deliberately ignore any criminal convictions of potential recruits in order to recruit large numbers of soldiers. The use of graffiti or gang related symbols must be banned in the military. Similarly severe punishment should be given to any offenders who are engaged in gang related violence or activities.
Anderson, Elijah. 1994. The Code of the Streets. The Atlantic Monthly, May 1994. Alonso, Alex, 2006, Blood Pressure Rising, The Source Magazine. Bakeer, Donald. 2006. Crips: The Story of the L. A. Street Gang. Los Angeles: Precocious. California. District Attorney. 2006. Gangs, Crime and Violence in Los Angeles: Findings and Proposals. Office of the District Attorney, County of Los Angeles, 2006. Cesareti, Gusmano 2005. Street Writers: A Guided Tour of Chicano Graffiti, Acrobat. Cohen, Albert K. 2005. Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang, Free Press