News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2007
SA Sarah Pullen
213-621-6827

International Law Enforcement Summit on Transnational Gangs
Federal, State, Local and International Chiefs of Police meet in Los Angeles

(LOS ANGELES) – Law Enforcement officials from across the United States, Central America and Canada will assemble this week at a summit held in Los Angeles to discuss the increase of violent crime associated with transnational gang activity and growth in their cities. The summit will commence this morning, February 7th, 2007, at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles International Chiefs of Police Leadership Summit on Transnational Gangs will be held through Friday, February 9th.

The objective of the summit is to enhance partnerships toward effectively combating transnational gangs and to develop methods of information sharing and case development. Gang intervention and rehabilitation techniques will also be discussed in a professional forum where law enforcement from North America and Central America will be afforded an opportunity to further strengthen their multi-lateral relationships in combating gangs.

"Drugs, guns and gangs form a potent and deadly triad which must be met with the combined law enforcement assets at the local, state and federal level," said DEA acting Special Agent in Charge Ralph W. Partridge. "DEA is committed to doing our part to break this cycle of gangs and their influence on our neighborhoods."

Law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal level from Los Angeles and key North American cities directly impacted by the criminal activity of transnational gangs will attend the three-day summit, and will be joined by international Chiefs of Police from the nations of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and Canada, where MS-13 criminal activity and organized crime trends of other Central American gangs has increased.

The Summit is being hosted by the following agencies:

United States Department of Justice

Drug Enforcement Administration

FBI and the National Gang Task Force

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 

United States Marshals Service

United States Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

United States Department of State

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

Los Angeles Police Department

The United States Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the Mayor of Los Angeles and representatives from Interpol will also participate in the summit.

“Gang violence and racially motivated hate crime, including murder and an assortment of brutal offenses, have become too common in North American and Central American cities where gang members have migrated,” said Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, J. Stephen Tidwell. “The law abiding members of our communities who’ve had to deal with gang violence as a part of life deserve better. The FBI and our partner agencies at this Summit aim to share intelligence, tools and strategies that work best, in order to combat these insidious gangs which denigrate society and terrorize good people.“

During the Summit, attendees will share historical overviews of gang growth and the resulting crime from both domestic and international perspectives, as well as the development of gangs into organized crime enterprises in the United States. Police Chiefs from international cities will detail specific gang problems their respective countries and departments have encountered, addressing crimes including extortion, murder, hate crime, robbery, rape, prostitution, drug trafficking, human smuggling and retail theft.

"A vital step in reducing gang influence is to ensure borders never become a sanctuary for gangs, nor an obstacle for police," said Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. "We have held gang conferences for the last two years to focus local, regional, and national resources on the gang problem. This year’s conference extends the reach to an international level."

Los Angeles County Sheriff, Lee Baca, said, “Some of our local street gangs have morphed into international crime syndicates using the latest technology. They have become sophisticated in communications and travel, and have set-up networks to carry out their criminal enterprises. Because of these mutual crime trends and suspects alike, who seem to be able to travel back and forth with ease, it is incumbent upon us to work closely with our international counterparts, specifically, with our neighbors from Central America.”

“ICE joins each of the agencies represented today to send a clear message: We intend to deal strongly and seriously with violent gang members who ignore our laws and threaten our communities. Gang members should understand that their criminal activity and associated violence are not part of the American Dream,” said Marcy Forman, director of the ICE office of investigations.

Assistant Director Michael Bouchard, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), stated, “ATF is committed to working with our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners to curb the threat of gang violence. Through the Project Safe Neighborhoods and the ATF-led Violent Crime Impact Teams initiatives, we identify, arrest and help prosecute violent criminals, reduce homicides and other violent gun crimes, and make our communities safer.”

Adam N. Torres, United States Marshal for the Central District of California said, “The Los Angeles Gang Summit is an example of how federal and local law enforcement agencies can join together in the fight against gang violence.  The various agencies participating in the summit may have different missions but share in the effort and responsibility to make our communities safer.” 

  Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton will deliver the keynote address immediately following Wednesday morning’s press conference. Throughout the Summit, attendees will meet in open forums to discuss best practices in terms of management and organization of resources, current trends, as well as intelligence collection and information sharing.

"Gang violence is a problem of international scope, and we must face it on an international scale," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "In order to successfully reduce gang violence, we must coordinate enforcement efforts with our international counterparts in a smart and effective way. But enforcement alone is not enough. A truly effective and comprehensive strategy to reduce gang violence must also address the root causes of that violence. All of us, at every level and from every nation, must work together on comprehensive prevention and intervention measures to stop the violence before it starts."

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said, "The gang crisis we face in the United States is not ours alone, and this gathering is a key part of the cooperative effort needed to combat gangs here and around the world."

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Christy McCampbell, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the Department of State said, "The rapid expansion of Latin American youth gangs over the last ten years within the U.S. and Central America demonstrates the need for an intensive and coordinated strategy. The State Department, along with the interagency community, has developed a comprehensive, multi-faceted domestic and international response." INL has begun tackling all sides of this issue by assisting our Central American colleagues with their law enforcement efforts, starting with a regional information sharing system, while also promoting prevention and developing alternatives for at-risk youths."

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said, “This summit goes a long way towards combating a criminal element that has tentacles throughout California, the nation and the world. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is happy to share the expertise it has gained in battling gangs throughout the county. We have enjoyed tremendous success in our prosecution of gang murders countywide, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of gang murders.”

Earlier this week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez met with Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca to announce new efforts to combat transnational gangs such as MS-13 and 18th Street that operate in El Salvador, elsewhere in Central America, Mexico, and the United States.  More information about these efforts can be found by visiting the following link: http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2007/February/07_ag_071.html.