FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
SEPTEMBER 18, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARYLAND EXILE AND RAGE ANTI-VIOLENCE PROGRAMS WIN AWARDS AT NATIONAL “PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS” CONFERENCE
Awards Recognize Collaboration by Law Enforcement Agencies
Baltimore, Maryland – The United States Department of Justice today gave Maryland law enforcement agencies two awards for developing and implementing model programs to fight violent crime. The awards were announced by Acting Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford at the Justice Department’s annual Project Safe Neighborhoods conference, held this year in Atlanta, Georgia. Project Safe Neighborhoods is the Justice Department’s nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “We are honored that the Department of Justice recognized the exceptional work that Maryland’s law enforcement agencies are doing to reduce violent crime. Maryland’s local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are united in working to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
The Maryland EXILE program was designated as the “Outstanding Overall Partnership” for 2007. Maryland’s Regional Anti-Gang Enforcement (RAGE) Task Force was recognized in the category of “Outstanding Gang Investigation.” The District of Maryland was the only jurisdiction that won multiple awards.
Maryland EXILE (“Outstanding Overall Partnership”)
The Maryland EXILE partners were recognized for their outstanding work in developing and implementing a unified and comprehensive written strategy to combat gun crime that combines local, state, and federal law enforcement efforts; community action and revitalization; and public awareness. Maryland EXILE features an innovative approach to coordinating state and federal prosecution of firearms cases that increases federal gun prosecutions while also using the prospect of federal prosecution as leverage to help state prosecutors obtain prompt guilty pleas. The Maryland EXILE strategy also includes the proactive Violent Repeat Offender program, which identifies the community’s most violent criminals and gangs and devises individualized strategies to get them off the streets using all available law enforcement options.
Maryland EXILE has developed an extensive training program for local police, as well as a “call-in” program to deliver a deterrent message directly to felons recently released on parole or probation. Maryland EXILE also initiates and funds community revitalization projects in neighborhoods that suffer most from violent crime. Maryland EXILE features an extensive and creative media/public relations campaign to alert offenders about the crackdown on gun crime and to energize the community to support law enforcement efforts, including TV and radio advertising, billboards, bus placards, and posters announcing lengthy federal sentences received by particular defendants. Finally, Maryland EXILE includes outreach to at-risk youth to help end the cycle of gun crime and violence in their communities. Representatives of the partner agencies meet regularly to ensure accountability. The level of cooperation and coordination among the Maryland EXILE partners has been extraordinary, as the Maryland EXILE team developed a comprehensive and unified program to fight gun crime in the district’s most violent jurisdictions.
U.S. Attorney’s Office Violent Crime Chief Jason Weinstein accepted the award on behalf of the Maryland EXILE partners.
RAGE Task Force (“Outstanding Gang Investigation”)
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Prince George’s County Police Department established the Regional Anti-Gang Enforcement (“RAGE”) Task Force, which expanded to include agents from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and representatives of police forces in the national capital region. With the support of the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and local prosecutors, the task force identified and infiltrated several extremely violent MS-13 “cliques” in Maryland and undertook to dismantle the cliques by treating the entire organization as a criminal enterprise under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The prosecutors and agents developed a highly effective strategy, including the use of confidential informants still within the gang, electronic surveillance, dozens of search warrants, extensive grand jury work, analytical work by ATF and FBI analysts, and the use of federal firearms and immigration offenses as well as applicable state crimes to disrupt and dismantle the gang.
Twenty-seven gang members have been charged with RICO-based offenses. Two trials have been held so far, leading to convictions on all counts for five defendants. Fourteen gang members have pleaded guilty. The United States is seeking the death penalty against three of the remaining defendants. Sentences imposed on the defendants who have gone to trial range from 35 years to life imprisonment. In June 2007, three MS-13 leaders in El Salvador were indicted on RICO charges; two of those defendants are alleged to have communicated with other MS-13 members from inside prison cells in El Salvador regarding acts of violence, including ordering murders in the United States. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the RAGE Task Force continue to work with U.S. and Salvadoran authorities to develop information and identify targets.
U.S. Attorney’s Office Anti-Gang Coordinator James Trusty accepted the award for the RAGE Task Force.
The Maryland EXILE partners include the State’s Attorneys’ Offices, local Police Departments, the Division of Parole and Probation of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Marshals Service.