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Gang Crisis

May 14, 2004 • Volume 14, Issue 18
Do police and politicians have a solution?
By William Triplett

Introduction

Tattoos identify a member of the Arizona Maravilla gang from East Los Angeles' Arizona Street. Nearly half of all U.S. gang members are Latino.  (California Gang Investigators Association)
Tattoos identify a member of the Arizona Maravilla gang from East Los Angeles' Arizona Street. Nearly half of all U.S. gang members are Latino. (California Gang Investigators Association)

Once an urban problem, street gangs have now infiltrated U.S. communities large and small. Gang experts say at least 21,500 gangs — with more than 731,000 members — are active nationwide. Long-established domestic gangs like the Bloods and the Crips remain powerful, but the problem has worsened dramatically in recent years. Heavy immigration, particularly from Latin America and Asia, has introduced highly violent gangs like Mara Salvatrucha and the Almighty Latin Kings Nation. Bound by tight ethnic and racial ties, they often stymie police investigations by assaulting or killing potential witnesses. Having already diversified from illegal drugs into auto theft, extortion, property crimes and home invasion, some East Coast gangs have begun trafficking in fraudulent identification papers that could be used by terrorists. While experts agree gangs are more pervasive than ever, few agree on a remedy. Proposed legislation would increase penalties for gang membership and gang crimes, but critics say it won't solve the problem.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Organized Crime
May 14, 2004  Gang Crisis
Mar. 27, 1992  Mafia Crackdown
Oct. 11, 1991  Youth Gangs
Mar. 17, 1989  Racketeering Law Comes Under Attack
Jun. 19, 1981  Organized Crime: The American Shakedown
Mar. 11, 1970  Drive on Organized Crime
Jan. 18, 1961  Interstate Crime Syndicates
Mar. 04, 1953  Criminality in Labor Unions
Mar. 17, 1950  Suppression of Crime Syndicates
Aug. 10, 1934  The Federal Government and Organized Crime
Oct. 20, 1931  Mob Disturbances in the United States
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Crime and Law Enforcement
Drug Abuse
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