Gangsters getting military training
November 15, 2011
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Federal officials are documenting a growing presence of gang members in the U.S. military, even while state financial support for local gang-busting and narcotics interdiction evaporates.
The proliferation of organized criminal elements with military-trained members should raise red flags for law enforcement officials, according to a recent FBI report.
“Members of nearly every major street gang, including the Bloods, Crips, Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples, Hells Angels, Latin Kings, The 18th Street Gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Mexican Mafia, Nortenos, Surenos, Vice Lords, and various white supremacist groups, have been documented on military installations,” the report says.
Even as the specter grows of Special Forces-trained gang-bangers roaming Main Street armed with killing skills and AK47s, cutbacks in state funding will help decimate anti-gang-related police activities in San Luis Obispo County.
Last week, the state Department of Justice (DOJ) said it will terminate at the end of this year its involvement in most of California’s 52 drug and gang units because of funding issues.
Paso Robles Police Chief Lisa Solomon, who in early September acknowledged that her city has a severe gang problem by forming a multi-agency program called “Safe Streets,” said Tuesday she is “reevaluating” the program’s future because of state fund reductions.
“We will lose our lead agency (the DOJ’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement), funding for office space, that kind of thing,” Solomon said. “But I do not think this will negatively impact the Safe Streets program. State funding is not ending until the end of the year.”
Solomon said she and others are “reevaluating whether the sheriff will be lead, or if there will be another lead.”
The chief said she had not heard about gang members joining the military.
“That is an interesting and disturbing phenomenon,” she said.
The FBI report notes that “gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of the distinctive military skills that they have and their willingness to teach these skills to fellow gang members. While the number of gang members trained by the military is unknown, the threat that they pose to law enforcement is potentially significant, particularly if gang members trained in weapons, tactics, and planning pass this instruction on to other gang members.”
And while U.S. Army officials themselves were critical of the report, the Justice Department appraisal has ominous overtones: “Although allowing gang members to serve in the military may temporarily increase recruiting numbers, American communities may ultimately have to contend with disruption and violence resulting from military-trained gang members on the streets of U.S. cities.”