15 -year-old was killed during a firefight in Oregon. Two were injured, the third was shot in the face in the Bronx. Five people were wounded in a shootout in Colorado Springs. Five were injured during the showdown in St. Joseph, Montana. Six people were wounded in a shootout in Yakima, Wash., one was died. Thirteen people were injured during a shootout in Chicago, including a 3-year-old child and two teenagers.
These are the American police’s daily reports. Politically correct American cops euphemistically call gang violence the “gang-related” crimes, that have become in recent years the main scourge of the U.S. major cities. Although it's too late to be ashamed of, it's time to sound the alarm. The FBI in 2005 equalized street gangs and terrorism, declaring these crimes a major threat to U.S. national security. According to the feds’ official data, more than 33 thousand of gangs operate in the country, and the total number of members exceeds 1.4 million people! Don’t be naive, the FBI didn’t include in the list all American prisoners (there are 2.2 million imprisoned people in the U.S.), but only the active members of gangs, mostly young men. In other words, American gangs include the same number of members as the number of military who serve in the U.S. army!
48% of violent crimes in the United States are committed by gangs, in some areas this figure is 90%. “The worst situation is in the suburbs,” Joshua Washington, who has been a member of a gang AVLN for 7 years, and recently released on parole, says. “It’s better to stand aback from the strange areas of municipal high-rise buildings. In the suburbs, it depends. Rich communities hire private security. In this case the gangs don’t do harm to them.”
This affects mainly the cities in the North-East of the country, in California and in the Great Lakes area. These are the most populous U.S. states, and the economic crisis hit these areas most strongly. “The sharp rise in street crime has become one of those effects,” journalist and author of “The Beginning of the End” Michael Snyder, says. “According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the spring of 2009, the number of gangs was estimated at 1,000,000 people, it means that it has increased by 40% for the post-crisis period! People are forced to make for crimes to survive if they can’t earn in legal way.”
A significant expansion of their activities was an unexpected consequence of the sharp rise in the number of gangs. In addition to traditional racketeering, street trade in drugs and arms the gangs began to put into practice illegal transport of migrants, human trafficking, and prostitution’s protection. Gangs began to develop high tech crimes such as counterfeiting, credit fraud and theft of personal data. These are even more frightening.
FBI habitually divides gangs in street, prison and motorized. Meanwile, the division in street and prison is formal. The only difference is the place where the gang was organized. Gangs can be brought into being in prison or outside (in most cases, the gangs act both in prisons and on the loose). Motorized gangs or OMG are Hollywood hairy bikers from “Hell's angels,” “Pagans” and other movies like “Bandidos”. Until the early 90's, they had played a significant role in the underworld, but in the 80s Latin Americans rapidly began to hold their positions and currently have irrevocably settled in the U.S. criminal world.
The largest grouping of West Coast - 18th Street Gang, or M18 - appeared in Los Angeles back in the 60s, and now it includes 65,000 active members in 120 cities and 37 states. The features of the gang members are tattoos or patches on clothes displayed different spellings of the number 18 - XVIII, 9, 9, 666, etc.
Latin Kings gang was formed by Puerto Ricans in Chicago in the 40s. Today, 42,000 of its members operate in 160 cities and 31 states. In this case, the gang is considered the most disciplined and organized, and the basis of its ideology is “kingizm” that members of the group call their religion. Decals are tattoos displayed tricuspidate or quinquedentate crown.
In 80 years, immigrants from El Salvador organized the largest and most brutal Latino gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS- 13. For the sake of intimidation its members cover the entire body and even the face with tattoos. Their trademark is the killing with machetes. There are about 70,000 members of the gang in the U.S. and Latin America.
Considerable figures are even worse when you consider that most of the gang members are men aged 18-25. Tough recruits begin to levy children in school. According to the report “The fight against juvenile violence,” prepared for the U.S. Congress, the schools ranked fourth among the criminal gangs’ recruitment centers. One in five American high school student gets an offer to join the gang.
“This suffices to offer black guy to deliver a parcel and promise $100 for this,” Joshua Washington said. “The next day he comes to get the money. And when you get $100, it’s almost impossible to give up another offer. You quickly get used to free money.”
Gangs use this. The most common age of the groups’ new participants is 10-12 years old. Moreover, the following cases become more frequent. Gangs’ recruiters affect first-graders (in the U.S. school age start at the age of 5-6 years old). “Gangs are worse than terrorists,” the psychologist Mary Jo Rapini says. “They use naivety and low self-esteem. Children see themselves as small, helpless, incapable, therefore, joining a gang gives them a sense of self-worth, care and safety.”
However, according to the experts, first of all, the causes of gangs’ activity in schools are macroeconomic. In 2000, more than half of American teens had a job and, therefore, could earn pocket money, in 2011 this figure decreased to 29.6%. In addition, the educational optimization was carried out in many states. Due to the funding cuts some schools in the city were closed, and the students were transferred to nearby facilities. Gangs could only take advantage of the natural confrontation between the newcomers and old-timers.
What was the FBI’s respond? It has prepared a brochure for teachers helping them to recognize gangs’ symbols in the pictures students depict on their notebooks and backpacks.
No money - no police
The police don’t have enough funds to finance the fight against crime. “The number of gangs in Chicago over the past two years has increased from 500 to 600. During the same time, police funding has decreased by $67 million, resulting in a reduction of troops in 1300 people,” says Michael Snyder. “Meanwhile, according to various reports, from 70 000 to 100 000 people are members of the three millionth city’s gangs, and the police division, aimed to combat criminal gangs, includes only 200 officers. In other words, there are 500 bandits per one cop. Hardly a surprise that Chicago is among the world's leaders in the number of murders, exceeding Mexico City and Sao Paulo’s homicide rate.”
However, the situation is even worse in nearby Detroit. Bankrupt “capital of the automotive industry” is so short of money that in January the mayor has decided to eliminate the department for combating organized crime. 5,000 police officers were in the city 10 years ago, now just a half remained. Due to the budget cuts, most police stations are closed 16 hours a day, less than 10% of the crimes are under investigation. The result corresponds to what is happening. Last year, the number of murders in the city increased by 13%, and the unemployment rate exceeded 18%. Currently, Detroit ranked second in the U.S. in the number of violent crimes and leads in the Forbes list of the most miserable cities in the U.S.
The richest U.S. state California faces the same problem. Oakland is a local leader in the number of violent crimes. Budget cuts caused the dismissal of a quarter of police officers that led to an increase of thefts by 43% last year. Nearby cities sell police equipment and helicopters, and in Los Angeles’ authorities don’t have enough money for the prisoners welfare. In consequence, prisons criminals who had served 40% of the time will be released. Moreover, this number includes rapists and murderers.
Gangland acts or war?
A holy place is never empty, therefore, without supervision of the police gangs take control of the streets. Often they are doing their “job” better than the state. “Gang’s control is even preferable for the residents of ethnic regions,” Mary Jo Rapini says. “Gang members talk the same language to them, act according to the habitual “laws,” give a sense of security and provide jobs if required. Trouble is that, growing up in such an environment, teens see the only way for their social growth. This development path is joining the gang.”
However, some achievements are needed for career advancement in the gangs, as in any hierarchical system. These attainments can be performed most commonly in territory controlled by a rival gang. This leads to the incessant skirmishes, thousands of injured and hundreds of killed. “It looks like a war of clans,” the employee of the Chicago unit targeted to combat organized crime Sgt. Matt Little, who was involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says. “Guys run around the streets and shoot in all directions. People older than 30 years can’t be seen on the streets: they are either run by gangs or jailed. There is such a level of brutality that only a few survive to this age.”
However, the level of gangs’ professionalism is growing. Over the past two years, the FBI has registered 53 cases of gangs members’ mass drafting in the army. There they learn the tactics of warfare, modern types of weapons and equipment. Stated differently, gangs members learn to professionally kill.
Nevertheless, it seems, in Washington these developments have already been thought. In case of large-scale disasters, partial transition of local power to military was permitted by the National Security Strategy, adopted in 2006. Two years later, it became clear that the U.S. authorities prepare for large-scale events. Army Modernization Strategy has put anti-government organizations in the National Security Threat List. In 2010, the Pentagon conducted exercises to to suppress civil unrest by armed forces in the event of an economic collapse. Moreover, since May 13, after making of the amendments to the federal regulatory act 32, the U.S. military got official authority to temporarily take over the duties to suppress the large-scale riots amid extraordinary circumstances. To the contrary, if the government fields army troops and heavy weapons against 1.4 million armed gangs, then it will not be the suppression of riots but a real civil war.