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National Drug Intelligence Center
Attorney General's Report to Congress on the Growth of Violent Street Gangs in Suburban Areas
April 2008

National-Level Gang-Drug Trafficking Organization Connections

National-level gangs pose a significant threat to suburban areas because of increased connections with transnational criminal organizations and DTOs. Many gangs have developed or strengthened relationships with transnational criminal organizations and DTOs. These relationships provide gangs with access to international sources of supply for illicit drugs that they commonly distribute in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Many gangs are also increasing their level of sophistication; a number have become profit-generating enterprises with global connections and advanced communications capabilities.

At least 23 gangs have been identified by law enforcement officials as national-level gangs, operating in multiple states and/or numerous major drug markets (see Appendix B). Moreover, law enforcement officials have documented connections between transnational DTOs and 11 national-level street gangs, 6 national-level prison gangs, 4 national-level OMGs, 2 regional-level street gangs, 1 regional-level prison gang, and 3 local prison gangs (see Appendix C).

Mexican DTOs, according to law enforcement reporting, are strengthening their relationships with U.S.-based Hispanic street gangs, prison gangs, and OMGs, involving them in their drug trafficking operations. Mexican DTOs routinely use gangs to smuggle and distribute drugs, collect illicit proceeds, and serve as enforcers. In addition, Mexican DTOs often use gang members as retail-level drug distributors, creating an additional layer of protection between DTO members and law enforcement. However, Mexican DTOs do not appear to be adding gang members as permanent members of their organizations. Law enforcement officials report that Mexican drug traffickers affiliated with the Federation, the Gulf Cartel, the Juárez Cartel, and the Tijuana Cartel maintain working relationships with at least 20 street gangs, prison gangs, and OMGs.6

Several major Asian criminal organizations and DTOs work closely with at least eight Asian street gangs.7 Asian criminal organizations often recruit gang leaders or senior gang members to join the criminal organization as trusted lieutenants under the control of senior organization leaders. The lieutenants, who also remain part of the gang, direct street-level drug distribution by lower-level gang members.

U.S.-based El Salvadoran, Honduran, and Guatemalan gang members routinely communicate with members of their respective gangs who reside in Central America; they also commonly communicate with DTO members based in their home countries. Such communications and the relationships that arise from them increasingly facilitate the transportation of drugs into the United States and the movement of drug proceeds to Central America.

Italian Organized Crime (IOC) groups maintain a strong working relationship with street gangs and OMGs, particularly those with ties to gangs in Canada.8 Gang members often assist IOC members in trafficking drugs and collecting illicit proceeds. In addition, gang members reportedly have been used by IOC members to operate front companies such as bars and restaurants and to occasionally act as bodyguards.

Jamaican gangs, commonly referred to as posses, are the source of most Jamaican criminal activity in the United States. These criminal gangs typically distribute large quantities of marijuana and cocaine in regional drug markets; they obtain the drugs from Mexican and Colombian DTOs.

End Notes

6. 18th Street, Bloods, Crips, Florencia 13, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrió Azteca, Black Guerilla Family, Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos, Mexican Mafia, Mexikanemi, Sureños, Norteños, Tango Blast, Texas Syndicate, Bandidos, Hells Angels, Mongols, and Vagos.
7. Asian Warriors, Asian Boyz, Flying Dragons, Tiny Rascal Gangsters, Vietnam, Wah Ching, Black Dragons, and Black Star.
8. United Blood Nation, Latin Kings, Ñeta, Outlaws, Hells Angels, and Bandidos.

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