With the national debate focused on civilian gun control, is perhaps the biggest armed threat within the U.S. being minimized?
According to the FBI, criminal street gangs – mostly comprised of illegal aliens – are acquiring high-powered, military-style weapons to potentially engage in lethal encounters with law enforcement members and citizens alike.
Criminal street gangs are responsible for the majority of violent crimes within the U.S. and are the primary distributors of most illicit drugs, according to a 2009 report by the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center, or NDIC.
The NDIC was a task force established in 1993 to coordinate law enforcement actions to stop drug trafficking and to curb the growing threat of violent gangs in the U.S. The agency was closed by the Obama administration in June 2011.
Prior to the shutdown of the NDIC, the agency released statistics on street gangs that some found unusual.
In 2010, the agency’s National Drug Threat Assessment stated that drugs were being sold on behalf of the cartels in “more than 2,500 cities.”
Then, in the 2011 official assessment, that number was reduced to “a thousand U.S. cities” – meaning that in one year, criminal drug gangs were cleaned out of 1,500 cities resulting in a 60-percent reduction.
Dave Gibson, a columnist for Examiner.com, asked, “Where were the press releases? Why isn’t the Obama campaign talking about this rather astounding feat every day?”
The NDIC’s reports were entirely removed from the Justice Department’s website.
An attempt to access the report brings users to a page that reads, “This website is no longer maintained and may contain dated information.”
In October 2011, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported that in 2009 and 2010 it arrested 5,270 illegal alien gang members across all 50 states. The arrests could have accounted for some of the reductions.
However, a 2011 FBI report draws a far dimmer picture of the nature of criminal gangs operating domestically.
States the report: “There are an estimated 1.4 million active street, prison and outlaw motorcycle gang members in more than 33,000 gangs operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.”
The report notes those numbers reflect an increase from 2009 figures due “primarily to more comprehensive reporting from law enforcement and enhanced gang recruiting efforts.”
The FBI report further warns that gang members are acquiring high-powered, military-style weapons and equipment, which, the report says, poses “a significant threat because of the potential to engage in lethal encounters with law enforcement and citizens alike.”
A 2008 report by the Center for Immigration Studies found that gang investigators in Virginia estimate that 90 percent of the members of MS-13, the most notorious immigrant gang, are illegal immigrants.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott