Gangs are expanding, evolving, and posing an increasing threat to U.S. communities.
That’s the bottom line of the just-released 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, and it probably doesn’t come as a great surprise to anyone who follows the news or is active in their community.
This latest assessment—prepared by the National Gang Intelligence Center—builds on the gang-related trends and criminal threats identified in the 2009 assessment. The findings in the 2011 report are based on data from federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and corrections agencies as well as open source information.
The key findings from the 2011 assessment:
- There are approximately 1.4 million active street, prison, and outlaw motorcycle gang members in more than 33,000 gangs operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. (Those numbers reflect an increase from 2009 figures, due primarily to more comprehensive reporting from law enforcement and enhanced gang recruiting efforts.)
- Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90 percent in several others.
- Gangs are increasingly engaging in non-traditional gang-related crimes like alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution, as well as white-collar crimes like 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.
- Gang members are acquiring high-powered, military-style weapons and equipment, which poses a significant threat because of the potential to engage in lethal encounters with law enforcement and citizens alike.
- Gangs are becoming increasingly adaptable and sophisticated, employing new and advanced technology—including social networking websites—to carry out criminal activity discreetly and connect with other gang members, criminal organizations, and potential recruits around the country and around the world.