On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade Criminal Justice Council and the Institute for Child & Family Health will host its Ninth Annual Gang Summit at the DoubleTree Hilton-Miami Airport Convention Center, an event superlative for those that work with children and in the community. So today I want to share with you some information from our partner, FBI Special Agent Joe Phan who is a member of the South Florida Safe Streets Gang Task Force and has extensive experience investigating illegal gang activities.
Here’s what he had to say.
What is a gang?
Surprisingly, there is no single definition. In general, researchers say a gang is a group with three or more members, generally aged 12–24, whose members share a common identity, view themselves as a gang and are recognized by others as a gang, have some permanence and organization and are involved in an elevated level of criminal activity.
Gang membership is on the rise in the United States with gangs conducting aggressive recruitment of juveniles and immigrants, leveraging new technology and branching out into other areas of criminal activity. The FBI estimates there are over 1.4 million gang members comprising more than 33,000 gangs across the country. In the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, it is estimated that there are over 3,500 gang members operating in about 300 gangs. Gangs are responsible for about half of the violent crime in most jurisdictions and pose a significant threat to public safety.
Gang members commit crimes to generate money, intimidate and/or control territory and establish “street credibility.” Increasingly, gangs are engaging in non-traditional gang-related crimes such as alien-smuggling, human trafficking, prostitution and white collar crimes. Gangs are also making greater use of the Internet to recruit new members, communicate within their gang, and threaten rivals.
Neighborhood-based gangs pose the most significant threat to the community compared to transnational gangs, national-level street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs. The FBI targets the most violent gangs. Weapons and violence are present in most, if not all, FBI gang investigations. These weapons are usually confiscated to prevent them from being used in future acts of violence.
The FBI’s goal is to disrupt and dismantle gangs that pose the greatest threat to the economic and national security of the United States using the ‘Enterprise Theory of Investigation.’ This approach aims to root out and prosecute the entire gang from street level members to the highest level of leadership. By removing the entire gang from the community, neighborhoods can be rejuvenated and children will not be pressured to join a gang.
To combat the threat posed by gangs, the FBI partners closely with local communities and with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies through Safe Streets Violent Gang Task Forces and other multi-agency groups. These task forces are able to combine resources, share information, and coordinate activities. These combined efforts enable the FBI and its partners to more effectively address the threats posed by gangs.
The public can assist in these anti-gang efforts by being vigilant in recognizing and reporting suspected gang activity to local law enforcement authorities.
For more information on gang crime, go to: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/gangs
For information on the Summit contact Javier Camacho: firstname.lastname@example.org