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  • Tue, January 22, 2013 7:45 PM | Anonymous
    El Salvador: Gangs launch campaign to turn in weapons

    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Leaders of five gangs announced from a Salvadoran prison they’re asking all gang members to turn in their weapons as part of an initiative by the Organization of American States (OAS).

    Along with the Deputy Secretary of the OAS Security Adam Blackwell, the leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18 (M-18), Mao Mao, Máquina and Miranda Locos expressed their commitment to disarmament during a press conference in La Esperanza prison in the municipality of Mejicanos on the northern outskirts of the nation’s capital of San Salvador.

    This past July, gang members delivered the first batch of weapons to OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza as a goodwill gesture.

    “Violence is no longer an option,” said Barrio 18 leader Carlos Mójica Lechuga.

    Blackwell is pleased with the gangs’ decision.

    “We will start a process that aims for complete abandonment of any criminal activity,” Blackwell said in a prepared statement.

    There was a 53% drop in murders in El Salvador during the six months since the MS-13 and M-18 declared a truce on March 8, according to the National Civil Police (PNC).

    A total of 959 killings were reported nationwide from March 8 through the end of August, a marked decrease after 1,113 were documented during the same time period last year. The country’s murder rate has fallen from 68 to 23 per 100,000 residents – and this has changed how the country is perceived, President Mauricio Funes said.

    El Salvador is no longer home to the world’s second-highest murder rate, which it had in 2011, when a rate of 66 trailed only Honduras’ 82.1, according to the 2011 United Nation’s Global Study on Homicide.

    [AFP (El Salvador), 20/01/2013; El Mundo (El Salvador), 18/01/2013; La Jornada en línea (Mexico), 19/01/2013]
  • Tue, January 22, 2013 7:39 PM | Anonymous
    Internet banging: Gangs use social media to trade insults, threats

    Published on Jan 22, 2013
    Contact Jared Wadley

    ANN ARBORundefinedGangs now occupy two spaces: the streets and the Internet.

    A new University of Michigan study reports that, in addition to carrying guns, gang members have armed themselves with social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to incite dares, trade insults or make threats that may result in homicide or other crimes.

    Researchers have described this new interaction as "Internet banging." They examine several factors, including the role of hip-hop music in this phenomenon and urban masculinity's influence on social media behavior.

    Desmond Patton, assistant professor of social work, said it's unclear if Internet banging only involves males or one ethnic group. However, gang-related violence disseminated over social media appears to be a male-dominated behavior that is shaped by fewer employment opportunities for minorities.

    Youth gang members are similar to their non-gang peers regarding online behavior in terms of feeling more positive about themselves using the Internet compared with the real world. The groups differ in using the Internet for posturing.

    "Many gang members, usually those who are new, are interested in making a name for themselves which leads to bragging about acts of violence or crimes that they may not have committed," Patton said.

    Using the Internet allows gang members to promote their affiliation and share information about rival gangs.

    The researchers also examined hip-hop music, which they characterize as the rebellious, assertive voice of urban youth, males in particular. Patton said it's this identity, along with unemployment and poor educational opportunities, that fuels the behavior of some African-American men.

    "In social media, the hip-hop identity has found the optimal playground to perpetuate and replicate itself because of its public nature," he said.

    In addition, male gang members who use the Internet can express their masculinity and be recognized in a public forum.

    "It gives them a place to seek public love and recognition of their manhood, a reinforcement of self they receive in few other places," Patton said.

    The study's other authors were researchers Robert Eschmann and Dirk Butler of the University of Chicago.
  • Sat, January 19, 2013 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    Boston gangs part of drug pipeline, officials say(Boston Globe)

    When Michael Scott faced arraignment in October on a shooting charge, the alleged Woodward Avenue gang member had much more to fear than the judge that day in Roxbury District Court.


    Inside the courthouse, Scott found himself surrounded by members of a rival gang from Wendover Street. Scott’s sister was there and called the leader of her brother’s gang, a man named Jonathan DaSilva who is accused of operating a sprawling drug pipeline, according to documents released this week by federal prosecutors.


    “After learning that his associate Mike Scott was in trouble,” the documents recounted, “DaSilva said simply, ‘Say no more.’ ”


    Investigators listened on wiretaps as DaSilva allegedly used his cellphone to put in motion the wheels of murder. The episode on Oct. 23 was captured as part of an almost two-year investigation that culminated Thursday with the dawn arrests of 27 suspects on federal narcotic and firearms charges. Documents provided by prosecutors showed the scope of the sophisticated drug pipeline, which sent shipments of crack cocaine from Boston to Maine, and included $100,000-per-month orders of high-potency marijuana driven by the truckload from California through Chicopee to Boston.


    Prosecutors allege that two violent gangs, one from Woodward Avenue in Roxbury, the other from Hendry Street in the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester, formed an alliance and pooled resources to keep narcotics flowing. Investigators learned that the leaders of the two gangs, identified by federal authorities as DaSilva, 29, and Alexis Hidalgo, 31, lived a lavish life, taking one trip to Atlanta during which they stayed at luxury hotels, spent more than $5,000 each to rent sports cars, and purchased a $10,000 table at an awards dinner.


    The longer law enforcement listened to the wiretaps, the deeper they penetrated the world inhabited by the gangs. At times, investigators heard violence bubbling and had to act before the gangs drew blood.


    “Drug dealers like the ones on Woodward and Hendry streets don’t keep their cocaine in banks and call police when they are robbed,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said this week at a press conference announcing the arrests. “They maintain stash houses in the heart of a residential community, and they take retaliation at the point of a gun.”


    That was true on Nov. 12, according to the documents, when Hidalgo ordered his lackey, Victor Scott, to bring him a gun at a Burger King on Dorchester Avenue because he had just been cut off by a Dodge Charger.


    By the time Victor Scott arrived with the firearm, the Charger was gone.


    But on Oct. 23 at Roxbury District Court, the gang members seemed to be destined for a shooting. After learning one of his compatriots had been surrounded by members of a rival gang, DaSilva called two of his subordinates and told them where they could find “hammers,” slang for guns, stashed on Woodward Avenue, according to the documents.

    DaSilva made it clear to one of the potential hit men, Patrick “Pistol” Gomes, that he had “the green light” to pull the trigger when he encountered their rivals from Wendover Street, according to the documents.


    Investigators listening to DaSilva’s telephone conversations moved to stop the shooting, according to the documents.


    Uniformed police rushed to Roxbury District Court and found Gomes outside immersed in an animated discussion with another member of his gang, according to the documents.


    Officers noticed that Gomes adjusted his pants and held his right side as he jogged back to his rental car, two clear indications he had a gun tucked into his waistband, according to the documents.


    Gomes, 27, has long been on the police radar. He was sentenced to a 6½-year federal term following a 2007 arrest for selling crack. He was released last May.

    As part of his release from federal custody, Gomes had been ordered to stay away from several of the men with whom he is now accused of conspiring to sell drugs, including Hidalgo and DaSilva.


    “These are the top echelons of the violence in Boston,” said one law enforcement official.

    That day in October outside Roxbury District Court, police surrounded Gomes’s rental car and found a loaded 9mm handgun in the glove box, according to the documents.


    Officers also allegedly discovered two medium-sized bags of marijuana, more than $600 in cash, and a purple hooded sweatshirt, the color of the Woodward Avenue gang. They arrested Gomes and the other man, Joshua Brandao, 22, of Dorchester.


    As the arrests occurred, investigators listened to the reaction from DaSilva as he spoke on his phone. DaSilva noted in the conversation that Brandao had a scant criminal record and therefore would be ordered to “eat the gun,” which meant he would have to take responsibility for the firearm.


    “Unaware, of course, that his calls were being monitored by the police,” the documents stated, “DaSilva assumed that Gomes and Brandao had been set up by his Wendover Street Rivals.”

  • Fri, January 18, 2013 6:08 PM | Anonymous
    Lowry: Gangs and gunplay on city streets


    Far away from the hallowed halls of Washington and the maddening rhetoric of the National Rifle Association cries out a more complicated America, a place where the streets are littered with shell casings and small bouquets of flowers to remember those who died all too soon.

    Wednesday, as President Obama was speaking with force and compassion about a need for tougher gun laws in the United States, a handful of young men was being paraded before state Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin to face arraignment on charges of murder, attempted murder or conspiracy in the killing of 19-year-old Alex Siri of Clifton. Their appearance in court, reported by Staff Writer John Petrick, drives home the point.

    Yes, this is Passaic County, and we have been this way before. We have seen young people cut down in a hail of gunfire by other young people, with guns obtained from God knows where, for reasons that may really never make much sense to most of us.

    Siri, prosecutors say, was a victim of a case of mistaken identity, dying, police say, after being hit with multiple rounds fired from a .380-caliber handgun while standing outside 139 Parker Ave. in Passaic on Jan. 8. Prosecutors paint the perpetrators as members of The DP or Dominicans Don't Play.

    Whether or not Siri, described by friends as "a calm kid," was the target comes as no solace to those who cared about him. He appears to be only the latest casualty in a wave of gang violence that's menaced the city of Passaic in recent months like the Masque of the Red Death. Former Mayor Margie Semler spoke candidly to me on the troublesome specter of gangs and their reach in Passaic, even down into the city's middle schools.

    "It starts when they're young," Semler said of the gangs' influence. "And it has a way of piling on as the years go by."

    Those arraigned Wednesday include George M. Ramos-Compres, 19, of Passaic, who pleaded not guilty to charges he killed Siri, a Clifton High School graduate who authorities say was standing with his girlfriend near the Home Depot entrance on Parker Avenue. Following the arraignment for Ramos-Compres and four others, Passaic County Assistant Prosecutor Michael De Marco spoke of the brutality of the alleged gang-style slaying.

    "They went out, a group of them, in three cars and intended to shoot and kill someone, but Mr. Siri was not the intended target," he told The Record.

    As troubling as the gang aspect of violence is in Passaic, it cannot be divorced from the prevalence of guns, a culture of guns manifest all over America and intensely felt in our most impoverished cities. Such is the sad state of affairs in New Jersey and elsewhere, as police departments are seeing personnel ranks shredded at the altar of "necessary budget cuts."

    At the end of the day, that means fewer officers left to patrol the streets and to deal with the unwieldy, unforgiving reality of too many people with easy access to guns. As you drink your coffee this morning, take a look at the faces of the young men, just boys really, charged in this awful crime.

    They are part of a vast cohort of America's youth that too many people in Washington and elsewhere have all but abandoned, in part because of pressure from the NRA. Our elected leaders, first and foremost, have failed to close loopholes in existing law that allow a gun purchased, say, in the Texas Panhandle to be used in a drug-related killing or bodega robbery in Passaic County.

    These are the same elected leaders who like to tell us that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Tell that to the friends of Alex Siri. Tell that to the police who patrol the hard streets of Paterson and Passaic.

    There have been, thankfully, a handful of lawmakers, and I count the ageless Sen. Frank Lautenberg among them, who know full well the scourge of these indiscriminate weapons in our urban centers. And then there is Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., who has, time and again, sought to bring federal dollars to help fill gaps left in budgetary shortfalls in cities and towns across North Jersey. Pascrell praised, in particular, the president's call for universal background checks for all gun sales.

    "These are common-sense actions that we can be taking right now to strengthen our background check system and enforce our existing gun laws more aggressively," Pascrell said in a statement.

    So yes, let's put everything on the table in this discussion about guns, including background checks at gun shows. Let's look at the mental health issues. Let's look, for the sake of argument, at the effect of video games and violence in our movies.

    And while we're at it, let's look at the grinding effects of high unemployment, poverty and inadequate schools.

    Most of all, though, let's look at guns and how they wind up in the hands of our young people, and why they have become, all too often, the first arbiter in settling scores on city streets.

    Bruce Lowry is assistant editorial page editor at the Herald News.

  • Thu, January 17, 2013 5:44 PM | Anonymous

    Feds bust two Dorchester street gangs - By John Zaremba and Laurel Sweet, Boston Herald

    Some two dozen men undefined with more waiting in line to follow undefined netted by local, state and federal law enforcements agents in a citywide crackdown on guns and drugs early this morning have been ordered held without bail for 10 days at their joint initial appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings.

    This cash was among the evidence collected by officials during a bust of thirty Boston gang members on drug and firearms charges, announced today by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz

    Packed into a courtroom jury box in jeans, T-shirts and hoodies, the stunned-looking, accused crew was ordered to return for their arraignments Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

    Thirty federally indicted members of two Dorchester street gangs were busted early this morning in a series of raids titled Operation Concord and more than a year in the planning that targeted a cocaine, heroin and marijuana-dealing ring, authorities said.

    “This community has been in desperate need of reprieve from violence,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said. “We hope the arrests and prosecution of the defendants will quiet the streets and improve the quality of life for all residents.”

    Those charged range in age from 30 to 36.

    The ringleaders have been identified as Alexis “Papi-Thing” Hidalgo, 31, of Dorchester, reputed head of the Hendry Street gang, and Jonathan “Jerky” DaSilva, 29, of Roxbury, reputed boss of the Woodward Avenue gang.

    Both men are convicted drug dealers on state charges, according to federal court documents.

    Hidalgo and DaSilva are accused of pushing crack cocaine and prescription painkillers throughout Greater Boston, as well as “high-grade” pot they sold for up to $5,200 a pound.

    In one phone call intercepted by wiretap, Hidalgo and an associate are allegedly heard discussing a “mother-load” shipment of drugs, to which Hidalgo responded to his cohort, “You just got us indicted, bro. If they are listening, I sell weed, man.”

    Federal authorities were planning a news conference this afternoon to announce additional details. Ortiz’ office said search warrants were executed at 12 locations.

    The FBI-led raid included “a few hundred” law-enforcement officers, including agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and the Boston Police Department, an official said.

    Mayor Thomas M. Menino called the roundup “a great day,” adding, “Drugs have been taken from our streets, and these violent individuals who profit from harming others will no longer terrorize our neighborhoods.”

    Authorities began carrying out the search warrants about 6 a.m. Those arrested listed addresses in Dorchester, Hyde Park, Randolph, Brockton, California and Maine, and included at least one 22-year-old woman from Dorchester.

    “As this operation shows, now it’s the gang members who have something to fear,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations in Boston.

    Collings told the group the court will work tomorrow to assign them all lawyers and he will schedule a separate detention hearing to address the request of prosecutors that they all remain in the custody of U.S. Marshals pending the resolution of their cases.

    “Just because they ask for it doesn’t mean they’re going to get it,” Collings told the defendants.

    Family members, meanwhile, tried to connect with their own words of encouragement as the defendants were led out en masse in chains.
    “Calm down! Please!” one woman called out.

    All approached afterwards by a Herald reporter declined to comment on their loved ones’ busts.

  • Thu, January 17, 2013 5:40 PM | Anonymous

    Stolen weapons arm city's criminal gangs

    Part of a haul of guns that were seized in March 2012 / Pic: Police Media Source: The Daily Telegraph

    MORE than 10 guns a week have been stolen from NSW homes over the past six months, prompting fears they fell into the hands of criminals.

    Police figures show 295 weapons were stolen from July to December last year.

    While police say many were expensive long-arms and possibly stolen to be collectors' items, gun control advocates said they would have been sold on the black market.

    "Research shows that only a small percentage of guns stolen are ever recovered," Gun Control Australia spokeswoman Sam Lee said.

    "They certainly don't go on to collectors' shelves.

    "The main source for guns falling into the criminal market is theft from homes."

    The figures emerged as Sydney remains in the grip of a gun crime crisis amid a bloody bikie gang war.

    And with no answers in sight from the Premier or Police Minister, it can be revealed that sweeping powers to crack down on violent bikies were offered by the Prime Minister in October but Barry O'Farrell didn't even bother to write back.

    Julia Gillard wrote to Mr O'Farrell on October 20 and told him uniform anti-bikie gang laws could be introduced if the states referred their powers to the Commonwealth.

    But Mr O'Farrell, who has accused Ms Gillard of dragging her heels on introducing uniform national laws, is yet to respond more than three months later.

    Yesterday Police Minister Mike Gallacher refused at a press conference to comment on gun crime, preferring to launch a watered-down policy for a drunk tank that can hold only 10 people.

    What is the best way to control gun crime and regulate gun ownership?

    However, last night he said his "sobering-up centres" would not detract from shooting investigations.

    While shootings across Sydney continue - a Hells Angels bikie was murdered on Tuesday - police believe guns stolen from homes, mostly rifles and shotguns, are not destined for criminal gangs.

    Their weapons of choice are handguns or semi-automatics.

    Police also point to the fact that from July to December they seized more than 6500 illegal weapons.

    Nearly all the firearms stolen from homes over the past six months were from rural areas.

    "Some are very expensive and may be sought after by people who want them for their private collections," Detective Superintendent Ken Finch, head of the NSW Firearms and Organised Crime Squad, said.

    But in many of the robberies entire gun safes are being removed from the premises.

    "The incidence of thefts is relatively stable but there is an increase in multiple weapons being stolen," Supt Finch said.

    Despite this he did not believe organised crime gangs were involved and said that in many cases the guns were stolen by opportunistic locals.

    "In rural communities it is pretty well known who is a gun collector or if someone has a lot of weapons," he said.

    "Also, people in these communities tend to know if properties are weekenders or if people are away for long periods of time."

    In May last year The Daily Telegraph reported 63 legal guns were stolen in 16 days, raising fears the NSW Firearms Registry was compromised. Supt Finch said those fears were unfounded and he was confident information on the registry was secure.

    "But it would be na adive not to think some of the them are linked," he said. "Similarly there have been a number of arrests where the alleged offenders have been locals."

    Supt Finch said that of equal concern to stolen firearms "has been the increased incidence of illegal importation of handguns, predominantly from the USA and Europe".

    "Several criminal syndicates have been detected and arrested for illegally importing handguns," he said.

  • Thu, January 17, 2013 5:26 PM | Anonymous

    Written by KEY News Staff

    Santa Barbara- The South Coast Task Force on Youth Gangs unveiled their annual report Thursday. Various sectors of the community attended the quarterly meeting to discuss plans for the coming year to decrease youth violence. Their main focus is tackling gang violence by keeping our young out of jails.

    Santa Barbara City Councilwoman, Cathy Murillo was in attendance. She says she came out to get an update on what's being done, and she's a strong supporter of the process. She adds that's important to get to the root of why our young are in gangs, in order to get them out. 

    Santa Barbara Deputy District Attorney, David Chen, shared the latest on the truancy program called CLASS. Chen adds says they're starting a 5 step program, which starts with a letter that goes out to the families of students who have 3 unexcused absences, signaling to parents and guardians that there may be an issue. The letter is then followed by after school interventions, one on one meetings with school administrators and even the DA's office. Ultimately, they want to know what's causing the student to skip class. 

    Given tight budgetary constraints, other goals for 2013 include establishing a Service Provider Group that focuses on sharing resources. 

    KEY News Reporter Shirin Rajaee reports.
  • Tue, January 15, 2013 11:20 AM | Anonymous

    Calif. Chief: Gangs Responsible for Crime Wave


    Police Chief Howard Jordan says the gangs are responsible for about 90 percent of the shootings.

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- City leaders rejected calls Monday to declare a state of emergency over a surge in violent crime they say is being driven by two warring criminal gangs.

    The gangs, which authorities refused to name, are responsible for about 90 percent of Oakland's shootings, robberies and murders since summer, including four of this year's six homicides, police Chief Howard Jordan said.

    Using Jordan's estimates, the criminal groups had committed about 2,000 robberies and 65 homicides in the second half of last year. Jordan refused to estimate the membership totals in both groups.

    City leaders spoke Monday after a brutally violent weekend that saw 15 people shot over the course of 60 hours, four of them fatally in separate incidents on Friday.

    The shootings prompted discussions in City Hall about declaring a state of emergency, and Vice Mayor Larry Reid openly called for it Saturday, citing a lack of police officers to deal with rising violence.

    But Jordan and Mayor Jean Quan said there was no benefit currently in declaring a state of emergency because the city was already getting the same level of help from outside police agencies that the declaration would trigger.

    "We understand it's an emergency," Quan said. "We have called for assistance and gotten assistance from everybody we have asked so far, and we'll be asking for more over the next few weeks."

    Jordan said police had made one arrest in connection with Friday's fatal

    shooting in the 3400 block of West Street and arrested three other "persons of interest" potentially connected to Friday's shootings.

    Police in recent days have pinned the city's violence on two rival criminal groups that began sparring over the killing of a woman last summer. But Monday was the first time Jordan said that the two groups were responsible for such a large percentage of violent crime in Oakland.

    The groups "grow almost every week," and one of them has merged with other

    violent groups, Jordan said.

    Police targeted one of the groups during a coordinated sweep Friday morning, just hours before the four shooting deaths later in the day. Jordan said there was no indication the two actions were related. He promised additional crackdowns.

    "We are going to be relentless; we are going to be aggressive, and we are going to bring them to justice," he said.

    Oakland is suffering from the twin plagues of rising crime and a shrinking police force.

    Violent crime in Oakland jumped 23 percent last year while the police department wilted under the weight of retirements and resignations to just 612 officers, its lowest staffing level in over a decade. Oakland officers are being forced to work overtime just to fully staff beats.

    A declaration, if approved by the governor, would allow the state to pay for help from outside law enforcement agencies. It also would empower the city to impose a curfew in specific areas "to preserve the public order and safety."

    "No one seems to understand that this is a crisis and that we have to reach out as far as we can to make this city a safer place," Reid said.

    He hoped a declaration would force nearby cities to provide officers to respond to service calls in Oakland.

    The City Council can make an emergency declaration independent of the mayor, but it's not clear whether there's enough support. Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Libby Schaaf both said Monday they needed more information before considering it.

    Oakland is already getting assistance from the California Highway Patrol, as well as nearby school district and housing authority police, officials said. The CHP assistance is scheduled to end later this month, but Quan said the city expected to receive an extension. She also said she would be seeking additional federal aid to help get guns off city streets.

    The City Council is considering contracting out for deputies from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, who could help bridge the gap until the department's first batch of new recruits complete their field training this summer.

    City leaders have gotten in hot water recently for making strong statistical claims about crime. Last year, Quan had to

    retract a key underpinning of her crime plan, which incorrectly held that 90 percent of homicides and shootings had been occurring within a highly concentrated 100 blocks of the city.

    Jordan said that police have improved intelligence on the two criminal groups and that the department has begun concentrating officers at locations where police anticipate retaliatory shootings will occur.

    "We have done a very good job of identifying them," he said. "Now our job is to focus and bring them to justice."

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