Department of Justice Seal

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey Announcing Enhanced Efforts to Combat Gang Violence

Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 - 1:50P.M. PDT

Thank you, Tom; and good afternoon. Joining us today are Mayor Villaraigosa and Police Chief Bratton. Also sharing the stage with us are representatives of the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

For too many citizens of Los Angeles, gang violence and the damage it does to the community are painful features of daily life. This community has witnessed the end of too many young lives.

That must not be allowed to go on, and so the fight against violent crime, including gun crime and gang violence, is one of my top priorities as Attorney General.

Earlier today I had the chance to meet with representatives of the United States Attorney's Office and local law enforcement so that I could hear for myself what those in law enforcement have been doing to stop the violence. I'm encouraged by what I've heard, and by the depth of the commitment so many good men and women have made to this effort.

The Department of Justice recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to fighting gangs. Often, the best strategies for one area are specific to that area, and draw on the local knowledge and culture that only people living there can provide. We recognize also that we cannot, and should not, try to arrest our way out of the problem, so the Department is seeking ways to work with community groups on gang prevention and other related strategies.

That is why the Department launched the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative two years ago. In that time, ten locations around the country have each received grants of $2.5 million to put in place strategies to combat gang violence. Los Angeles was one of those. Led by U.S. Attorney O'Brien, this program has brought together community partners and law enforcement to find what works best for this community.

Although we recognize that cannot and should not try to solve the problem only by arresting people, we can't either just sit by and wait for our other efforts to take effect. Law enforcement has an important part to play, and so I am pleased to announce the results of a joint law enforcement operation this morning aimed at striking a blow against the kind of gang activity that has done so much damage to communities in this area.

This morning, authorities arrested four members and associates of the Grape Street Crips gang. Five additional members and associates were previously taken into custody.

All of these individuals are charged in a federal indictment that outlines a conspiracy to manufacture and to distribute the drug phencyclidine, also known as PCP. Because of the scale of this drug ring, today's action is expected to have a significant impact on the local PCP trade.

This indictment and these arrests resulted from several long-term investigations conducted by federal and local law enforcement agencies.

I'm also pleased to announce that the Department is focusing more resources and attention on the gang problem in this area by funding another FBI Safe Streets Task Force in the Central District of California. With this addition, there will be six Safe Streets Task Forces working to protect our youth in this area from the curse of violent crime and gang activity. These Task Forces, which the Department has set in cities across America, help state, local, and federal law enforcement officials work together to disrupt and dismantle violent gangs.

Whether they're organized local branches of a national or trans-national gang, or loosely established street crews committing random violence without any discipline or structure, gangs and the increasing violence they perpetrate are a serious issue for local law enforcement. Fighting them, and all violent crime, is a top priority of the Department of Justice.

Thank you. I'll now turn the podium over to Mayor Villaraigosa.