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Fact Sheet: Department of Justice Efforts to Stop Gang Violence in America’s Communities
“The effects of violence and gang activity reverberate beyond
individuals, beyond a single perpetrator or a single victim. When a young man
is murdered, an entire community feels the loss. When a young girl is raped,
an entire neighborhood is violated.”
-- Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, 2/15/06
At the direction of the Attorney General, the Department has taken several
important steps to address gang violence. First, the Department established an
Anti-Gang Coordination Committee to organize the Department’s wide ranging
efforts to combat gangs. Second, each United States Attorney has appointed an
Anti-Gang Coordinator to provide leadership and focus to our anti-gang efforts
at the district level. Third, the Anti-Gang Coordinators, in consultation
with their local law enforcement and community partners, have developed
comprehensive, district wide strategies to address the gang problems in their
districts. All of the Department’s law enforcement components are engaged in
a coordinated effort to combat gang violence.
GangTECC, National Gang Intelligence Center, and Gang
Through GangTECC, the National Gang Intelligence Center, and Gang
Squad, the Department has established national coordination, intelligence and
enforcement mechanisms aimed at dismantling the most significant, violent,
national and regional gangs.
- Coordination – The Department has created a new
national multi-agency, anti-gang task force- the Gang Targeting, Enforcement,
and Coordination Center (GangTECC). GangTECC targets the nation’s most
violent and far-reaching gangs by bringing together representatives from all
of the operational components of the Department, as well as from other
agencies. Led by the Criminal Division, the center coordinates overlapping
investigations, ensures that tactical and strategic intelligence is shared
among law enforcement agencies, and serves as a central coordinating center for
multi-jurisdictional gang investigations involving federal law enforcement
- Intelligence – GangTECC works hand-in-hand with the new
National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC). The NGIC integrates the gang
intelligence assets of all Department of Justice agencies, and has established
partnerships with other federal, state and local agencies that possess
- Enforcement – The Criminal Division has established a
new Gang Squad, a core team of eight experienced anti-gang prosecutors who
serve as the prosecutorial arm of the Department’s efforts to achieve maximum
national impact against violent gangs.
Six Site Comprehensive Anti-Gang Program
In March 2006, the Attorney General announced six sites that would
receive $2.5 million in grants as part of a new comprehensive initiative that
focuses on reducing gang membership and gang violence through enforcement,
prevention and re-entry strategies. These sites are: Los Angeles, Tampa,
Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Milwaukee, and Pennsylvania’s 222 Corridor. The
initiative includes the following measures:
- Enforcement – Approximately $1 million per site to help
create enforcement programs that focus law enforcement efforts on the most
significant violent gang offenders.
- Prevention – Approximately $1 million per site to focus
on reducing youth gang crime and violence by addressing the full range of
personal, family and community factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency
and gang activity.
- Re-entry – Approximately $500,000 per site to create
mentor-based re-entry assistance programs with faith-based and other community
organizations that will provide transitional housing, job readiness and
placement assistance, substance abuse and mental health treatment to prisoners
Project Safe Neighborhoods
In May 2001, President Bush announced Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a
comprehensive initiative to reduce gun crime in America by linking together
federal, state and local law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders.
The Attorney General has recently expanded the PSN initiative as part of the
Department’s anti-gang efforts.
- In FY 2006, through the PSN initiative, the Department filed 10,425
federal gun crime cases against 12,479 defendants. This is a 66 percent
increase in cases filed and a 55 percent increase in defendants prosecuted
since FY 2000. In FY 2006, over 93 percent of those offenders received prison
terms and over 50 percent were sentenced to three or more years in
- In its first six years, this Administration has more than doubled the
number of firearms prosecutions brought in the last six years of the previous
Administration. From FY 2001 through FY 2006, the Department filed 58,464
federal firearms cases against 71,019 defendants – more than a 100 percent
increase in cases filed from the prior six year period.
- In FY 2006, the Department has provided approximately $30 million in
state and local grants and training and technical assistance to support PSN’s
new and enhanced anti-gang work. Those funds are in addition to the
approximately $10 million in grant funds provided in FY 2006 in support of
traditional PSN gun crime reduction programs.
Weed and Seed Initiative
The Weed and Seed Program is a community-based multi-agency approach to law
crime prevention, and neighborhood restoration. “Weeding” consists of law
enforcement and community policing; and “seeding” consists of efforts designed
to prevent, intervene, and treat crime, and social and economic distress. There
are over 300 Weed and Seed sites, and in FY 2006, over 200 communities received
Weed and Seed funding.
The Department also works with the Department of Homeland Security, the
Department of State and our international partners to fight gangs that operate
both in the United States and other countries and to ensure that illegal
aliens who are gang members are prosecuted and/or removed from the United
- In 2006, the Department has provided training to Assistant United States
Attorneys on using immigration offenses as part of anti-gang efforts, and is
currently working with countries in Central America to develop more efficient
and effective information sharing and repatriation mechanisms.
- The Department has also worked with the Department of Homeland Security
on Operation Community Shield, which is aimed at disrupting and dismantling
Department of Justice Task Forces
In addition to the Attorney General’s Department-wide Anti-Gang Initiative,
each of the
Department’s components work with state and local law enforcement on
specific programs to curb the threat of gang violence nationwide. These
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- The ATF-led Violent Crime Impact (VCIT) teams identify, target and
arrest violent criminals to reduce the occurrence of homicide and
firearm-related violent crime. These teams include federal agents as well as
state and local law enforcement, and are currently deployed in 25 cities
across the country.
- In addition to the VCIT initiative, ATF participates with state and
local law enforcement and other federal agencies on 110 anti-gang task forces
throughout the country.
Drug Enforcement Administration Efforts
- The DEA Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) Program responds to requests from
state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials to help stem the rise in
drug-related violence and methamphetamine trafficking. Often times, these MET
deployments target violent gangs involved in drug trafficking activity, such as
the Hell’s Angels, Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips, Mexican Mafia, and Gangster
Disciples. There are currently 22 METs located throughout the United States
and the Caribbean.
- In FY 2006, the METs initiated 30 deployments. Of these, 30 percent
were gang related. Additionally, between FY 2005 and 2006, there was a 45
percent increase in the number of the DEA’s active Priority Target
Organization (PTO) cases that involved gangs.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Efforts
- FBI-led Safe Streets Task Forces focus on dismantling organized gangs by
addressing them as criminal enterprises. As of January 2007, the FBI operates
more than 170 Task Forces (TFs) in its 56 field offices, including over 130
Safe Streets Task Forces (SSTFs) focused on violent gangs and over 30 SSTFs
focused on violent crime.
- The FBI has launched a multi-agency MS-13 National Gang Task Force
focused specifically on dismantling MS-13 by increasing the flow of
information and intelligence, coordinating investigations, and helping local
and state law enforcement more easily identify the gang in their areas.
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCEDTF)
- The OCDETF program targets large, violent, national gangs involved in
significant drug trafficking. The number of new gang-related OCDETF
investigations increased 37 percent from FY 2005 to FY 2006.
U.S. Marshals Service
- The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) leads six Regional Fugitive Task
Forces, as well as 86 district-based task forces across the country, forming
the backbone of the USMS' fugitive apprehension efforts. The USMS
investigative network extends to its three foreign field offices and its
Regional Technical Operations Centers, which provide sophisticated electronic
and air surveillance support in fugitive apprehensions on the federal, state
and local levels. In FY 2006, Deputy U.S. Marshals and their task force
partners apprehended over 88,100 fugitives. Over 1,690 of those fugitives
- In October 2006, Deputy United States Marshals teamed up with thousands
of fellow federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct the
largest ever round up of fugitive sex-offenders and wanted gang members.
Dubbed “Operation FALCON III” (Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally),
Deputy Marshals and their fellow task force members arrested 10,773 felony
fugitives. This number includes 1,659 sex offenders and 364 gang
Prevention and Public Awareness
- Over the past year, nearly all of the United States Attorneys have
convened a Gang Prevention Summit, designed to explore additional
opportunities in the area of gang prevention. The goal of the summits was to
bring together law enforcement and community leaders to discuss best
practices, identify gaps in services, and create a prevention plan to target
at-risk youth within their individual communities. These summits have
reached over 10,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, social service
providers, prevention practitioners, and members of the faith-based community.
- In partnership with the Ad Council, the Department has created two new
PSN public service announcements (PSAs) intended to educate youth about the
perils of gun crime and the consequences of joining gangs. The announcements
have been distributed to English and Spanish language radio stations
nationwide and began airing in early July 2006.
- In addition to the existing anti-gang training and technical assistance
provided by Department components, the Department has hosted two Gang
Prevention webcasts that are accessible by the public. These webcasts share
best practices in gang prevention; identify resources; support and complement
the Attorney General’s Anti-Gang Initiative; emphasize a community-based
approach to gang prevention and the importance of collaboration; and assist
the United States Attorneys in implementing their district-wide anti-gang
strategies. The webcasts are available at www.dojconnect.com.
- The Department provides funding for the Gang Resistance, Education and
Training Program (GREAT) utilized in schools throughout the country. GREAT is
a school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed curriculum. The program’s
primary objective is prevention and is intended as an immunization against
delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership. GREAT lessons focus on
providing life skills to students to help them avoid delinquent behavior and
violence to solve problems. In FY 2006, the Department awarded $15 million to
over 140 GREAT sites in 36 states.
- The Department has long supported gang prevention activities such as the
National Youth Gang Center, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the
Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention’s Gang Reduction
In addition, the Department has developed a wealth of resources and
community policing solutions to help law enforcement and communities address
the problem of gangs. These resources include guides for police on topics such
as graffiti, bullying in schools, gun violence among youthful offenders, and
witness intimidation; comprehensive gang prevention model programs; quick
reference cards for parents in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Hmong;
multi-site evaluations of gang programs; innovations documents on network
analysis and jail information-gathering; and a Solutions to Address Gang
Crime CD-ROM available free to the public containing DOJ anti-gang
related resources and tools.