L.A. Names “Worst Gangs,” Vows to Prosecute Them,
The Los Angeles Times
Latino Gang Study Finds Few Links to Overseas Groups,
The Washington Post
In February, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police officials abandoned a long-standing strategy and publicly identified the city’s 11 most violent gangs, promising to go after them with teams of police, federal agents, probation officers and prosecutors. The approximately 800 members of those gangs are believed to have committed 6 percent of the city’s violent crimes last year. Villaraigosa noted that the gang-suppression plan was only an initial stabilizing step, and said the city would later provide prevention and intervention programs to keep young people out of gangs. Experts fear that a chronic lack of resources will undermine the city’s efforts. On the other side of the nation, a study exploring the links among Latino gangs in the Washington, D.C., area and five Central American nations has debunked the idea that the gangs are working in any organized way to spread their influence. The joint study by the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico and a nonprofit advocacy group, Washington Office on Latin America, found that the gangs’ crimes consisted mainly of petty theft and extortion, rather than the drug trafficking, prostitution, human smuggling and arms sales traditionally associated with organized crime. “This idea that gangs are like an infection spreading from country to country through a process where the leaders send out missionaries to colonize new areas is fundamentally untrue,” Geoff Thale, one of the study authors, told The Washington Post. Feb. 8, http://www.latimes.com and http://www.washingtonpost.com.