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INSIDE GANG VIOLENCE
Director Outlines Changing Threat and Our Response

01/18/07

FBI Director Robert  Mueller

On Thursday, FBI Director Robert Mueller traveled to Los Angeles to talk in specific terms about what we're doing to help big cities and local communities nationwide battle the growing wave of gang violence.

A few highlights from the Director's speech at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. And we encourage you to read the full text now posted online.

  • On Los Angeles. "Los Angeles is ground zero for modern gang activity. Many gangs were born here, a generation ago—the Bloods and the Crips, MS-13, and 18th Street. And for every highly organized gang enterprise, there are hundreds of local gangs wreaking havoc on street corners and in neighborhoods."
  • On the changing threat. "Modern gangs are more diverse, more dispersed, and more dangerous. There is no 'typical' gang. Some are comprised of just three or four individuals whose sole ambition is to control drug sales on their corner. Others have high tech hierarchies and maintain their own websites. One gang may be robbing a bank for extra spending money, while five blocks down, another gang may be committing murder for a criminal enterprise being run out of a prison."
  • On successful cases. Read about major takedowns of "Nuestra Familia," Ruben Castro and the 18th Street Gang, MS-13, the Black P-Stone Bloods, and the Townsend Street Gang, which led a local resident to say, "There are many good people here. Thank you for taking away the ones who cause trouble."
  • On our longstanding anti-gang strategy. "One can picture the gang problem as a pyramid. The base is primarily made up of the unsophisticated, loosely organized gangs. In the middle of the pyramid are more structured gangs. And at the top is a relatively small number of highly sophisticated gangs that are involved in organized criminal activity. These are the groups the FBI has traditionally looked for. Our strategy has been to imprison, and thereby eliminate, the leadership of gang enterprises."
  • …And on our emerging new formula, which leverages our 131 Violent Gang Task Forces nationwide and our MS-13 National Gang Task Force based in Washington, along with our growing use of intelligence and federal criminal statutes.
  • On law enforcement's needs to defeat gangs. More resources to staff up gang task forces; better intelligence to understand the threat and prevent gang violence; new technologies to support investigations (see the Director's description of an innovative new program in Philadelphia); and new ways to leverage federal criminal statutes—from applying stiffer penalties to providing more protection to witnesses.

In the end, the Director is confident that we can turn back the tide of gang violence. "Gang crime may be part of our reality today, but law enforcement can change that reality tomorrow. We in the FBI are committed to working with our partners in state and law enforcement to meet this challenge."

Resources: Director's remarks | FBI's Violent Gangs website