Officials Discuss Fight
FBI arrests suspected members of MS-13
in New York.
days before Christmas, a robber walked into
a bank in Arkansas and demanded money. A bank
teller complied. Then the robber shot and
killed the teller and on his way out bid "Merry
Christmas" to stunned witnesses.
crime in Little Rock was a grim denouement
to a year that preliminary FBI statistics
show saw an increase in violent crimes. Couple
the stats with figures that show a steady
rise in gang activity in the U.S. and you've
got the attention of law enforcement officials
from the Attorney General to the cop on the
there be no mistake, we're up to the challenge,"
James "Chip" Burrus,
of our Criminal Investigative Division, told
reporters Tuesday during a briefing at the
Department of Justice on the battle against
gangs and violent crime. Burrus joined top
Justice officials in illustrating the myriad
operations, in education, and in the courtsthat
law enforcement officials are waging battle
against a growing scourge.
one gangMara Salvatrucha, or MS-13is
believed to have 10,000 gang members operating
in at least 33 states. The 18th Street Gang
is active in 36 states. They have hierarchies
and business modelsas do many smaller,
regional gangs. To fight them, officials are
using intelligence and tools much like those
used in the fight against organized crime.
are a lot of tools in our toolbox that we
can apply," Burrus said. Those include
traditional wire taps and surveillance and
conspiracy statutes that punish enterprises
for large scale criminal activity. For example,
just last week 13 suspected MS-13 members
were indicted on racketeering and conspiracy
charges in Tennessee. The organization operated
much like a businessmembers met regularly
to discuss business and problems and even
paid dues. They are charged in at least three
murders, underscoring their motto"Mata,
Viola, Controla" (Kill, Rape, Control).
are some other effective tools:
Streets Task Forces: FBI agents work
with state and local partners on more than
170 Safe Streets Task Forces; 130 of those
are focused exclusively on violent gangs.
The task forces, which include 816 FBI agents
in 54 field offices, put federal, state,
and local law enforcement in the same place
at street level, eliminating duplication
and leveraging the strength of each.
National Gang Targeting Enforcement &
Coordination Center: A multi-agency
task force of agents and investigators looks
at ways to make the most impact-"to
hit harder," said Alice Fisher, Assistant
Attorney General, Criminal Division.
Gang Intelligence Center at the
FBI is staffed with 25 intelligence analysts
who zero in on gangs by analyzing their
migrations, growth, and criminal activities
and by sharing the information across the
law enforcement community.
National Gang Task Force: The FBI established
the task force in 2004 as a clearinghouse
for local, state, and federal law enforcement
to share gang data and spot trends. The
task force last year instituted the Central
American Fingerprint Exploitation initiative,
which merged criminal records in Central
America with the FBI's fingerprint database.
To date, the database includes 100,000 fingerprint
cards20,000 of those have had contact
with U.S. law enforcement.
Director Burrus said working with international
law enforcement will be essential in the battle
against transnational gangs like MS-13. "We'll
continue to work with our partners overseas
to try to put a stop to this menace,"
line, even with our increased focus on terrorism
and other key priorities, our commitment to
combating violent gangs and violent crime
in your cities and neighborhoods remains strong.
Crime webpage | Violent