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Criminal Resource Manual

114. Criminal Street Gangs

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 created Chapter 26 to Title 18, United States Code, entitled "Criminal Street Gangs." 18 U.S.C.A. § 521 (West Supp. 1995). It created punishment enhancements of up to ten years for the commission of certain offenses by criminal street gang members. 18 U.S.C.A. § 521(b) (West Supp. 1995). The offenses to be enhanced are federal felonies involving controlled substances for which the maximum penalty is not less than five years, federal felony crimes of violence, and conspiracies to commit such offenses. 18 U.S.C.A. § 521(c) (West Supp. 1995). A criminal street gang is defined as an ongoing association of five or more persons that has as one of its primary purposes the commission of criminal offenses described in the previous sentence, its members have engaged in a continuing series of such offenses within the past five years, and such activities affect interstate or foreign commerce. 18 U.S.C.A. § 521(a) (West Supp. 1995). To be subject to the enhanced punishment under Section 521, it must be shown one participated in a criminal street gang with knowledge its members engage or have engaged in a continuous series of offenses as described herein, he intends to promote or further the gang's felonious activities or maintain or increase his position in the gang, and he has been convicted within the past five years for certain federal or state crimes as described herein. 18 U.S.C.A. § 521(d) (West Supp. 1995).