Gangs have become the urban terrorists in our country.
There has been a large increase in gang related activities across the globe, including America. Many of us don't realize the extent to which these gangs have dramatically impacted our lives here. Our children cannot safely wear certain colors, cross "boundaries" defined by gangs, or talk freely for fear of offending a member or members relatives. Families move up, hoping to escape this threat, only to discover it's right there in an upscale neighborhood. Schools are locked down like prisons, much of it due to the increased violence between gangs. This link will take you to a special report by the FBI, with some highly disturbing facts and statistics about US gangs, where they are, and who is being seen joining.
http://www.hi-ho.ne.jp/taku77/refer/gang.htm Violent Street Gangs in America
Steven R. Wiley, Chief
Violent Crimes and
Major Offenders Section
Federal Bureau of
Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Dr. Max G Manwaring, who has written a fine monograph for the Institute for Strategic Studies, describes the 3 levels of gang behavior and also how it relates to the destabilization of countries and states. The first level is normally the best known-the turf gang, which is often interested only in controlling it's 'hood. Narcotic activity is minimal at this level, but many of the turf battles and drive by shootings come from this type of gang.
The second level gang members are often better organized and heavily into the production and sale of narcotics and weaponry. Often they are loosely linked with other gangs when needed, across the US. Homicides at this level are more likely to be vicious and more focussed.
The third level or "generation" gang is international in scope, having much better coordination and organizational capabilities. Major weaponry, wholesale narcotics, and terrorist activities are to be seen amongst these groups.
Dr. Manwaring approaches the gang problem in a straightforward manner. They have moved well beyond mere neighborhood thugs to international players in major drug and weapons cartels. Because of this, and historically documented examples in Latin America and overseas, this growing threat must be addressed. For example, citing Dr. Manwaring on Guatemala:
"Youth gangs from California began moving into all five Central American republics in the early 1990s. The main impetus came as a result of convicted felons being sent from prisons in the United States back to the countries of their parents origins.
These gangs include the famed Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Mara 18, and several others in El Salvador―Mao Mao, Crazy Harrisons Salvatrucho, and Crazy Normans Salvatrucho.21 At the present time, the Salvadoran gang phenomenon is estimated to number approximately 39,000 active members in El Salvador. Additionally, several thousand individuals with direct links back to El Salvador are located in the United States, other countries in Central and South America, Mexico, Canada, and Europe."
These gangs are usually only interested in their own agendas, and are mainly apolitical. That however, doesn't preclude their becoming partners with extremists, whether domestic or foreign, who have vested interests in destroying our way of life. All it takes is cash, bigger better weaponry, including WMD and narcotics, and deals are being made.
Our prisons have become a prime focus for these urban terrorists. Rapes, extortion and murder are climbing dramatically inside our prisons across the country. Extremist views are being taught, and once an inmate is let loose, he can then spread the word to the "outside". The FBI has lately begun investigating this troubling development, and have so far been successful in either stopping or identifying these targets.
Urban terrorism crosses all socioeconomic boundaries, knows no preferences as to whether its metroplitan or rural in locale, and has even crossed into Native American culture. In Arizona, homicide rates have increased, and young Native Americans have started their own gangs on reservations. Worse, as you will read in the FBI paper, age is no barrier, since elementary school children have been documented as belonging to a gang.
This is not only a national security issue, but also a global one. All of us need to get actively involved with trying to solve this, before it gets much worse. We need a multi-level, united approach to this, and it begins in our own homes and neighborhoods. We need to know who are children spend time with, where they are, and how much gang activity they see when away from home, or in the neighborhood. Coordinated efforts between neighbors to rid their area of gang activities has been sucessful. Get a neighborhod Watch going. If activity is serious, the FBI has a Safe Streets program, that can assist in helping rid your neighborhood of the problem.
Start becoming educated about what to look for, how to talk with your children about this issue, and above all, get involved.