Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gang Intelligence: Assessing the Local Ecology

Last year I had the opportunity to go and train members of CIPOL in Chihuahua Mexico on gang recognition and intelligence gathering. While the specific gang identifiers there were somewhat different from those found in the United States, the general dynamics of gang structure, identifiers, and overall make-up are almost identical. During the trip I was able to assist police in interviewing gang members on the streets. What follows below are excerpts from the assessment I completed for the authorities there in the city. This sheds light on how gangs have become a global problem. It also demonstrates how despite different identities of gangs and different identifiers being present, a generalized understanding of gangs proves effective in gang intelligence gathering regardless of the place gangs are located. Foremost it reveals that gang training on local gang ecology is essential in dealing with gangs in any community.

Gang / Deviant Groups in Chihuahua Mexico
Preliminary Assessment

During the week of July 10 through July 16, 2005 intelligence gathering and assessment of the gang / deviant groups subculture in Chihuahua Mexico revealed several key elements taking place in the area. In the preliminary assessment no major super groups could be readily identified, however, there is some indication that such groups may be operating on a peripheral basis.

Localized Gangs and Growing Alliances:

Localized Gangs appear to be the predominant subculture across the city. Some localized gangs already appear to be evolving into more widespread groups. Los Aldeas, Barrio Londres, Los Diablos 21, Septima and BSK were identified as groups having graffiti across the city as opposed to one or two specific generalized locations. Intermediate alliances between some groups as Los Diablos 21, Septima, Los Aldeas and some other local groups under the banner Sur 13 is indicated by interviews with Septima and other members. Further evaluation is needed to ascertain the relevance and strength of such alliances.

Groups of Interest: Dukes / Sur 13

Of particular interest groups such as the Dukes appear to have a growing and predominant presence across several barrios. The Dukes could be tied to the same group in the US but further assessment and interviews with gang members in the Chihuahua area will be needed to ascertain if this is the same group. Whether tied to the US group or not, the Dukes seem to have an extensive presence in the city and from graffiti dates also appear to have been in the city for quite some time.

Sur 13 is especially noted because it is a known marker of the Southern California alliances between the Mexican Mafia, their cooperative of localized barrio gangs, and Mara Salvatrucha. Sur 13 is not necessarily a specific gang group but rather a group identity not unlike the Folk or People Nation Super Gangs in the United States. The Sur 13 identity appears to be in the preliminary stages of the same amalgamation process as the Folk / People Nation groups were approximately 20 years ago. Security and financial reasons are identified as catalysts for the Super Gang / Nation Gang umbrella organizations that evolved. That same process appears to be ongoing with the Hispanic gangs not already directly tied to either of the aforementioned Nation groups.

The assessment of the culture in the Chihuahua area appears to indicate that unless intervention is initiated such conglomeration of local groups into larger umbrella groups is imminent as evidence indicates is already underway. Further cooperation and amalgamation of Sur 13 and related identities into Folk or People Nation Super Gangs could also result in the near future in the United States making the threat of the Nation Gangs even greater.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gangster Infomercial

These photos are from papers taken from a student in a small town alternative school in the South. As it turns out this kid was a transplant gang member from Indiana. There he was a Gangster Disciple.

When he came here he decided to take his gang knowledge and make his own little group. But why did he not just carry on the GDN here? Most likely he wasn't very high in the pecking order up north. But here in a small backwoods town he could be the "big man." Here he could take elements of his old gang and make a whole new one based on his gang of origin.

This is just one of the ways that gangs transplant all over the country. One of the ways that gang identifiers get blurry over different areas. This is one of the main reasons communities need training specialized for their own gang ecology.

Learning "gangs" from gang instructors and from popular published gang books can prove faulty. For one it can provide a community with a false sense of security. If they don't see the signs of the Vice Lords in their community, (at least according to Officer Big John's Big Book of Gangs) then they may miss something.

That is why gang training has to be locale specific. That is why gang training has to focus more on the ideology and general identifiers associated with gangs rather than beating a dead horse about how Crips make their graffiti. Unfortunately communities and law enforcement groups all too often pay overpriced "trainers" with their so called "certified gang courses" to come in and teach them about gangs that have nothing to do with their region.

I still don't get how anyone can claim to teach a "gang certification" course and sleep good at night. There are no college degrees for gangs. BE VERY WARY of anyone who tells you that you need to pay 200 dollars a head to get certified in his idea of gangs. Frankly it is a rip off. If it weren't then these guys owe a whole lot of money to the Crips, Gangster Disciples, and so on for using material THEY created.

I recently acquired a "big book of gangs" from a rather prominent gang educator. This book sold for about 50 bucks. The thing was it only talked about gangs from his city. Outside of a 100 mile radius it becomes practically useless.

It is not enough that adult gang leaders use kids to make their money. Unfortunately some so called professionals do the same. No, it isn't wrong to do gang training. And it isn't wrong to get paid for your work. What is wrong is delivering a half researched bunch of junk wrapped in a tidy little "certification" package and marketing it as the gospel on gangs. Then charging insane prices to people.

It is that infomercial mentality that we can do without.

Monday, June 19, 2006

GANG Evolution in the News

Gangs widening suburban reach
June 19, 2006

BY FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter

The average leader of a Chicago street gang is 43, and more often than not he lives in the leafy suburbs of Cook County.

He typically has been convicted of murder.

In some gangs, his underlings have tried to infiltrate the Cook County Clerk's office; the Cook County Sheriff's office; the Chicago Police Department, and even the College of DuPage's criminal justice classes.

Directing troops from prison

When he winds up behind bars, he communicates with his gang soldiers through a number of ingenious methods: he may write letters in urine, a secret ink that becomes visible when exposed to heat; he may send messages in "micro-writing" in languages like Swahili and runic, and he may subpoena fellow gang members to appear at his court hearings and give them orders through hand signals.

In a few instances, his gang has even communicated on radio stations. Marvel Thompson, a Black Disciples leader awaiting sentencing in a drug case, pirated a Christian station's FM frequency to warn members about police officers' movements in his Englewood stronghold. In Zion, detectives investigating a murder discovered gang members were baiting their rivals on a radio call-in show.

Chicago's gang leaders are finding new ways to do business, too.

Many supervise lucrative mortgage fraud schemes to supplement their traditional bread-and-butter enterprise: drug trafficking, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in profits a year in the Chicago area.

Metropolitan Chicago's gang leaders -- more than 100 of them -- control more than 70 gangs with more than 70,000 members.

Some of these gangs have huge operations in the suburbs. More than 3,000 gang members are in Waukegan, 2,000 in Cicero and 1,800 in Aurora, police say.

The profile of the typical Chicago gang leader as a graying, suburban, technology-friendly convict overseeing hundreds -- or even tens of thousands -- of members in everything from mortgage fraud to drug dealing emerges from The Gang Book, a new 272-page illustrated guide by the Chicago Crime Commission.

"Ten to 20 of these gangs are considered to be highly sophisticated, resilient, adaptable and potentially more dangerous than ever," said Jim Wagner, president of the commission and a former FBI agent.

Watching for out-of-town rivals

Their migration to the 'burbs has been fueled in part by Chicago's aggressive strategy of tearing down high-rise housing projects to make way for new urban development.

The leaders are constantly on the lookout for emerging rivals.

In the northern and western suburbs, for example, they have their eyes on the Sureno 13s, a California-based gang listed by many outlying towns as their No. 1 emerging gang. Surenos, whose leaders are much younger than in decades-old Chicago gangs such as the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords and Latin Kings, have been pushing their way closer to Chicago.

One focus of the crime commission book released today is crime on school grounds.

More than 14,600 crimes were reported on Chicago school property last year between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and excluding weekends, involving both students and non-students, the report said. Strangely, though, only 217 of those crimes were reported as gang-related. "A reasonable explanation for this could be that the victim rarely reported the incident as gang-related or the investigator did not classify the incident as gang-related," the book said.

The book recommends that school leaders give kids an alternative to gangs through after-school programs, summer job programs and drug prevention education. It also recommends suburban schools strengthen their gang intelligence.

Advice on how to fight back

The book also calls for:

*Limiting handgun sales to once a month and banning .50-caliber sniper rifles.

*Requiring DNA samples from all convicted felons.

*Supporting proposed legislation to separate the juvenile correctional system from the adult system.

*Strengthening penalties for making false IDs.

Chicago Police Sgt. Joseph Petrenko, who helped the Chicago Crime Commission prepare the book, said he was struck by how old many of the 102 listed Chicago area gang leaders are. For instance, George Davis, named as a leader of the Black Gangsters/New Breed, is 68. "A police department might overlook a guy who is over 50," Petrenko said. "The young guys are the enforcers, but the older ones are calling the shots. Departments need to pay attention to 'em."


Friday, June 09, 2006

Gang World Wars

Gangs and their ever growing movement towards political / religious centered ideologies in the US should be seen as what could be more ominous things to come. The difference between street gangs and rebel insurgencies can sometimes come down to only a matter of semantics.

In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or in the Los Angeles riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King trial, people in the middle of gang controlled areas would be hard pressed to disagree.

Many US gangs have transplanted themselves as a global phenomenon to places as far away as the Crips in New Zealand or the recent reports of Mara Salvatrucha in Spain. We must remember that MS13 themselves were originally comprised of former refugees and rebel fighters from El Salvador who came to the states and learned the ways of our urban street gang organizations. The same kind of influence can be reciprocal.

Gang units all over the US have been disbanded leaving many citizens vulnerable to escalating gang violence. Many of our gang unit resources were diverted to homeland security projects after 9-11. While homeland security should be a priority we should look to the evolving gang wars across the globe and remember one simple thing. Many insurgencies, rebellions, and coups originated first within the confines of the street gang mentality.

East Timor in the grip of machete gang war

By Marianne Kearney in Dili

(Filed: 31/05/2006)

Armed gangs continued to wreak havoc on the streets of Dili yesterday, as Australian troops faced growing criticism for failing to contain the violence.

As gangs of men equipped with machetes, knives, iron bars and stones roamed Dili's streets, burning and looting, terrified refugees took shelter beneath plastic sheets, under trees or in the hallways of the school rooms, in the Don Bosco Catholic centre.

He added that foreign soldiers had disarmed gang members, seizing high-powered rifles, shotguns, handguns, grenades, machetes and swords in recent days.

Many were co-ordinating their attacks via mobile telephones, keeping each other informed of when troops were in the area.

19.5.2006. 09:21:31

Another 15 people died on the sixth day of clashes between a powerful prison-based gang and authorities in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city.

The victims were 14 suspected attackers and a police officer. The death toll for the gang uprising that began last Friday now stands at 170.

Brazilian police pressed on with counter-attacks against the powerful Sao Paulo gang First C

apital Command that is blamed for starting the street war.

Ten massacred in Bihar gang war

Press Trust of India

Patna, May 18, 2006,000900030002.htm

Ten persons were shot dead in two districts of Bihar in the worst incidents of gang war since the NDA government led by Nitish Kumar came to power about eight months ago.

"Nine persons were shot dead by members of Akhilesh Singh gang armed with sophisticated weapons at Gochak in Bihar's Nalanda district," Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Abhayanand said.

Superintendent of Police Amit Kumar said the killing was in retaliation for the gunning of a sympathiser of the upper caste Akhilesh Singh gang at Barbigha village in Sheikhpura district by rival Ashok Mahato gang on Friday morning.

Both Ashok Mahato and Akhilesh Singh gangs are locked in a war...