FBI Finds Gangs Expanding, Even to U.S. Military

October 23, 2011

ABC News on October 21, 2011 released the following:

“By Jason Ryan

A new FBI assessment has found there are now an estimated 1.4 million gang members in the United States with gangs expanding even infiltrating the U.S. military.

The National Gang Threat Assessment has found there are 33,000 officially designated gangs in the United States. The gangs’ 1.4 million members represent a 40 percent increase in gang membership since 2009. The FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment has found that gangs are expanding in the United States and are responsible for up to 48 percent of violent crime in many urban communities.

FBI officials also say the use of social media sites has assisted in recruitment with youth becoming interested in gang culture and displays of bravado on Facebook and YouTube. The threat assessment notes that local police in Missouri have seen a rise in gang “promotion teams” using internet chat rooms to promote clubs and parties. Displays of gang signs and walks are found abundantly on YouTube which FBI officials say may influence youths to seek out gangs.

While FBI and law enforcement officials do not have estimates on the number of gang members in the military officials have seen gangs in 100 jurisdictions in the U.S. and overseas with 53 different gangs who are in every branch of the military.

“Gang recruitment of active duty military personnel constitutes a significant criminal threat to the U.S. military,” the threat assessment noted. “NGIC [National Gang Intelligence Center] reporting indicates that law enforcement officials in at least 100 jurisdictions have come into contact with, detained, or arrested an active duty or former military gang member within the past three years.”

“Some members are joining the military to get away from the gang life,” said Calvin Shivers, FBI assistant section chief of the Violent Criminal Threat Section, at a briefing today.

“Many gangs are sophisticated criminal networks with members who are violent, distribute wholesale quantities of drugs, and develop and maintain close working relationships with members and associates of transnational criminal/drug trafficking organizations,” the assessment noted. “Gangs are becoming more violent while engaging in less typical and lower-risk crime, such as prostitution and white-collar crime. Gangs are more adaptable, organized, sophisticated, and opportunistic, exploiting new and advanced technology as a means to recruit, communicate discretely, target their rivals, and perpetuate their criminal activity.”

“Gangs are increasingly engaging in non-traditional gang-related crime, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution. Gangs are also engaging in white collar crime such as counterfeiting, identity theft, and mortgage fraud, primarily due to the high profitability and much lower visibility and risk of detection and punishment than drug and weapons trafficking,” the assessment prepared by the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center noted.

The report notes that while most gang members are in the West, gangs have been growing in the Northeast and the Southwest. The expansion in the Southwest could be because of gangs reaching out to and linking with Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (MDTOs).

“U.S.-based gangs and MDTOs are establishing wide-reaching drug networks; assisting in the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and illegal immigrants along the Southwest Border; and serving as enforcers for MDTO interests on the U.S. side of the border,” the assessment noted.

FBI officials say the increased figures are likely due to better reporting and analysis of information reported to them by state and local law enforcement agencies. The National Gang Intelligence Center is made up of officials from the FBI, DEA, The ATF, The US Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.”


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Alleged “Bloods” Leader Narik Wilson Charged in a Federal Criminal Complaint with Being a Felon in Possession of Firearms

August 27, 2011

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on August 26, 2011 released the following:

““Bloods” Leader Arrested, Charged with Possessing Arsenal of Weapons Tied to Murders and Other Violent Acts in Newark

AUG 26 – NEWARK, N.J. – Brian R. Crowell, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Paul J. Fishman , the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, announced an alleged leader of the Sex Money Murder set of the “Bloods” street gang was arrested today and charged with possessing eleven firearms, including two firearms tied to homicides in Newark, New Jersey.

Narik Wilson, a/k/a “Spaz,” 26, of Newark, N.J., was arrested today and charged by criminal complaint with two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms. Count One charges that on April 28, 2011, Wilson unlawfully possessed three firearms, including an assault rifle and a shotgun. Count Two charges that on July 18, 2011, Wilson unlawfully possessed eight firearms, including two assault rifles and two shotguns.

According to the Complaint that was unsealed today:

Wilson was identified as a leader of the “Sex Money Murder” set of the Bloods street gang. He and other members of the gang were engaged in a “street war” with a rival gang in Newark. Law enforcement received information that Wilson and the other gang members were hiding guns in vacant apartments in Newark.

On April 28, 2011, law enforcement conducted a search at one of these apartments, finding an assault rifle, a shotgun, and a semi-automatic pistol, as well as hundreds of rounds of various types of ammunition, a mask, and heroin. On July 18, 2011, law enforcement searched another vacant apartment, finding eight firearms, including two assault rifles, two shotguns, and other semi-automatic weapons, along with over 100 rounds of various types of ammunition, two ski masks, and cocaine.

After the seizures, Wilson told a confidential witness that he was at war with a rival gang and that law enforcement had seized his firearms from the apartments. Wilson also stated that he was attempting to acquire more guns.

Ballistics analyses demonstrated that two firearms seized on July 18, 2011 were linked to a double homicide in Newark in 2010 and a homicide in Newark in 2011. In addition, analyses also linked seized weapons to 10 other shootings in Newark in 2010 and 2011.

The charges in the Complaint each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The case is assigned to Hon. Joseph A. Dickson, United States Magistrate Judge in Newark.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Matthew W. Horace, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, and the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Director Samuel DeMaio and Police Chief Sheilah Coley, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest and charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Robertson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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F.B.I. Focusing on Security Over Ordinary Crime

August 25, 2011

The New York Times on August 23, 2011 released the following:


WASHINGTON — Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been more likely to be hunting for potential threats to national security than for ordinary criminals in recent years, but much of the time found neither, according to newly disclosed internal information.

Data from a recent two-year period showed that the bureau opened 82,325 assessments of people and groups in search for signs of wrongdoing. Agents closed out most of the assessments, the lowest-level of F.B.I. investigation, without finding information that justified a more intensive inquiry.

Separately, the bureau also initiated 1,819 assessments during the period to identify any possible threats within particular geographic districts. That activity ranged from looking for the presence of particular organizations, like gangs or terrorist groups with definable characteristics, to evaluating other potential vulnerabilities, like a university with classified research and many foreign students.

The data, obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers a panoramic view of the bureau’s activities toward the end of a decade-long effort to transform the F.B.I. from a law-enforcement agency focused on solving crimes to a domestic intelligence agency whose mission is to detect potential threats before they can reach fruition.

The disclosure, covering March 25, 2009, to March 31, 2011, focused on assessments, which an agent may open “proactively or in response to investigative leads” and without first having a particular factual basis for suspecting a target of wrongdoing, according to the F.B.I. manual. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey issued guidelines for the bureau creating that category in 2008.

During an assessment, agents may use a limited set of techniques, including searching databases about targets, conducting surveillance of their movements and sending a confidential informant to an organization’s meetings. But to use more intrusive techniques, like secretly reading e-mail, agents must open a more traditional “preliminary” or “full” investigation. Such inquiries require agents to first have a greater reason to start scrutinizing someone: either an “information or allegation” or an “articulable factual basis” indicating possible wrongdoing.

According to the data, during the 2009-11 period agents opened 42,888 assessments of people or groups to see whether they were terrorists or spies. A database search in May 2011 showed that 41,056 of the assessments had been closed. Information gathered by agents during those assessments had led to 1,986 preliminary or full investigations.

The data also showed that agents initiated 39,437 assessments of people or groups to see whether they were engaged in ordinary crime. Of those, 36,044 had been closed, while 1,329 preliminary or full investigations had been opened based on the information gathered.

Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the high number of assessments relative to the number that developed into more intensive investigations was cause for concern. He noted that the F.B.I. retained the data it collects about a target, even if the person or group turns out to be innocent.

“It’s clear the F.B.I. is casting its investigative net too broadly,” Mr. German said. “And remember that only a small proportion of ‘preliminary’ investigations become ‘full’ investigations, and only a small percentage of full investigations result in criminal charges. This data makes it clear that the ‘assessment’ authority granted in the attorney general guidelines is far too broad.”

But Valerie E. Caproni, the F.B.I. general counsel, said that the data showed that agents had been able to dispose of about 96 percent of the low-grade reasons they might have had for suspecting someone of wrongdoing, like a vague tip or some other ambiguous lead, using “low intrusion techniques” rather than by opening a potentially more invasive preliminary investigation.

The new investigation standards, Ms. Caproni said, “end up being privacy protective because previously, without a well-developed, robust assessment category, many if not most of those would have been opened as preliminary investigations.”

The newly disclosed data roughly matched a far more limited disclosure earlier this year about assessments of people and groups generated in late 2008 and early 2009, but the latest data covered a longer period and included additional detail. The data also bolsters the F.B.I.’s assertion that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the bureau has taken low-grade tips about national security threats more seriously than similarly vague and seemingly implausible leads about possible criminal activity. The 39,437 criminal assessments were based on 73,303 complaints received by the F.B.I., indicating that about half of the time, agents merely filled out a complaint form but saw nothing worth following up on.

In contrast, the disclosure did not offer a separate number of national security complaints, suggesting that some were not followed up with an assessment. The bureau says its policy calls for every national security-related tip, no matter how dubious, to be investigated. Still, Ms. Caproni cautioned that the assessment data did not offer a complete view of the F.B.I.’s activities. For example, she said, if the Central Intelligence Agency told the bureau that an overseas source had provided a specific claim about a terrorist cell operating inside the United States, agents would immediately open a more intensive investigation rather than starting with an assessment.

She also cautioned that some details about the numbers might be fuzzy. In the past, for example, the F.B.I. has noted that one assessment may uncover information that leads to more than one preliminary investigation. At the same time, agents may occasionally have neglected, when opening a preliminary investigation, to record the fact that it developed out of an assessment.

The new data also showed that while the agency has opened fewer assessments looking for broader intelligence about possible threats and vulnerabilities within a district, a category it calls Type 3 assessments, it has been slower to close them. Of the 1,819 it had opened during the period, 1,056 were open by May.

Those figures covered Type 3 assessments generated both by national security programs — like domestic and international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and counterintelligence — and criminal programs, like civil rights, gangs, organized crime, violent crime and white-collar crime. The F.B.I. censored the specific breakdown for each category. The data release comes as the F.B.I. is preparing to issue agents a new version of its manual, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, that will relax some rules about the techniques allowed at the assessment stage. Ms. Caproni said the new rulebook is at the printer now, and a partly redacted version is likely to be released to the public at the same time it takes effect around mid-October.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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