Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 88

Thread: Of Mice and Men: Gangs, Narco-Terrorism, and the USA

  1. #1
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default Of Mice and Men: Gangs, Narco-Terrorism, and the USA

    Originally posted under the "The Switch" thread, I choose to begin anew given the circumstances...I'd appreciate your thoughts and comments, and if you are an interpreter, you can keep your mask on for safety.

    v/r

    Mike

    Gentlemen,

    Over the course of the last three weeks, my thesis research on Iraq has been distracted by a more pressing situation in Salinas, CA- the home of John Steinback. I believe that my observations are particularly relevant for this thread, and y'all may find the topic interesting and compelling for further discussion.

    Salinas, along with many cities in Northern California (NorCal), are facing what they perceive to be as a gang problem. Levels of violence, drug use, and other criminal activity metrics have increased exponentially throughout the last decade. Some neighborhoods of Salinas are deemed no-go zones or ungovernable. Despite $5m invested by Congress to establish an anti-gang task force created to serve as "the local model for national level anti-gang task forces," Sen Boxer Press Comment progress is fleeting.

    Local officials are exasperated. Local law enforcement is exhausted. In their own words, the situation is dire.

    Just like in Iraq circa late 2006. The frightening realization is that I've walked this dog before. Even more frightening is that this problem is now in my own backyard, and we seem somewhat oblivious to it. It took us many years of fighting in Iraq to collectively realize that AQI was merely a symptom of a greater problem.

    From my initial observations, I do not believe that Salinas has a gang problem-the gangs are merely symptoms of a larger problem that includes transnational terrorism, the drug trade, illegal immigration, prison reform, civil rights and equality, education, and poverty. As the world "flattens," Salinas is an example of the negative side effects of globalization.

    Before I explain a portion of the greater problem that transcends the local government of Salinas and potentially leads further south to Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, I would like to introduce local recruitment tools and propaganda used throughout NorCal: Generation of United Nortenos. In this video, you'll notice that they've successfully recruited Elmo and Mickey Mouse to become gangstas. In other videos, the children recruited are reminicent of the children we captured in AQI training camps in Diyala Province.

    Switching gears...

    As noted in a previous post, Plan Colombia has effectively demobilized the AUC and marginalized the FARC. We have had tremendous success in lower levels of violence in the country (95% decrease in kidnappings, 50% decrease in homicides, 70% decrease in oil pipeline attacks, and 80% increase in trafficability along roads). Furthermore, the big media success was the hostage rescue.

    However, the drug production and exports are still escalating- the primary focus of the original Plan Colombia is a failure. Additionally, the Colombia military continues to be plagued with an image problem through continued Alleged Human Rights Abuses. CRS REPORT TO CONGRESS

    Throughout Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, etc...), outside of the regular issues of governance, the mayan population continues to remain disenfranchised, second-class citizenry.

    In Mexico, we're seeing a significant rise in drug wars- the national police force is either penetrated, corrupted, or marginalized and the army is doing the fighting. As linked throughout this thread, the drug wars are threatening the stability of the government as the gangs are allegedly reinforced and trained by transnational islamic groups (AQ, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc..).

    Back to Salinas...

    Maybe none of this is related. Maybe Salinas just has a gang-problem.

    Or maybe it is all inter-connected. I don't know. I'm just putting it out there for discussion. I read the original constitution (circa 1968) of the Norteno familia, one of the gangs in Salinas. What I read was 2/3s Che Guvera, 1/3 Chairman Mao sprinkled with some Ghandi.

    The original organization was not a gang or shadow government. Originally, it was a community organization focused on the social, political, and economic progress of the perceived disenfranchised latino/hispanic community.

    During the 1980's, ex-Vietnam vets joined the famila and militarized it using the hard fought lessons learned in their war.

    I've adapted a Kilcullen quote on Afghanistan to summarize this thread...

    Well, I doubt that an Anbar-style “awakening” is likely in Salinas. The enemy is very different from Al Qaeda in Iraq and, in any case, Salinas’ gangs have a very different makeup from Arab tribes. So even if an awakening happened it would likely play out differently from Iraq. Rather than talking about negotiations (which implies offering an undefeated gang a seat at the table, and is totally not in the cards)

    I would prefer the term “community engagement.”

    The local families, neighborhoods, and communities in some parts of Salinas have been alienated by poor governance and feel disenfranchised...This creates a vacuum, especially in terms of rule of law, dispute resolution, and mediation at the neighborhood level, that the gangs have filled. Rather than negotiate directly with the gangs, a program to reconcile with local communities who are tacitly supporting the gangs by default (because of lack of an alternative) would bear more fruit. The gang movement itself is disunited and fissured with mutual suspicion...


    I'm interested in y'alls thoughts. While I'm stationed in NorCal, I think I'm gonna try to provide some help to the local officials.

    v/r

    mike

  2. #2
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default

    MikeF, why don't you contact John P. Sullivan. He is a LT. with the L.A. County Sherrif's Department. And from his articles he knows what is going on, so look him up in the phone book and give him a call.

  3. #3
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default

    Slap, I actually read Sullivan's article after I posted my initial thoughts. I plan on contacting him- he seems to "get it." I was suprised by his insight and the parallels to my initial observations.

    Before we go Vic Mackey Shield style, I thought I'd ask for y'alls feedback.

    The worst thing I could provide to this community is a narrow-minded, cookie-cutter approach to a messy or wicked problem. Thus, I'm throwing my thoughts out for your feedback.

    As we debate the small wars abroad, we can help out our law enforcement brothers at home with a little perspective. Along a certain spectrum, we may find a midpoint where everything intersects.

    So again, what are your thoughts?

    Mike

  4. #4
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Slap, I actually read Sullivan's article after I posted my initial thoughts. I plan on contacting him- he seems to "get it." I was suprised by his insight and the parallels to my initial observations.

    Before we go Vic Mackey Shield style, I thought I'd ask for y'alls feedback.

    The worst thing I could provide to this community is a narrow-minded, cookie-cutter approach to a messy or wicked problem. Thus, I'm throwing my thoughts out for your feedback.

    As we debate the small wars abroad, we can help out our law enforcement brothers at home with a little perspective. Along a certain spectrum, we may find a midpoint where everything intersects.

    So again, what are your thoughts?

    Mike

    Let me think about it some.

  5. #5
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default

    Slap,

    BTW, I forgot to thank you for the excellent Sullivan article.

    As I attempted to articulate earlier, there is a problem in NorCal that may proceed out of control. I don't have any answers yet, but I'm trying to redefine, frame, scale, or scope the problem in a way that has not been done before.

    I'm not a stakeholder, so I'm very flexible...

    Mike

  6. #6
    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Seattle, Wa
    Posts
    206

    Default

    If your going to put together a Task Force you need to have aggressive people who know the players to get things rolling and they need to have the backing to allow them them to be proactive. They will naturally attract complaints to some extent if they are properly doing their jobs. The CRASH model seemed to work until they worked themselves out of a job and were no longer politically feasible. A good TF is also going to need to need various stakeholders like ICE and even Social Security officers to be effective. One of the ones we had up here paid major dividends. It turned out that some of the "participants" would rather go back to their respective homes of origin than to risk doing Federal time. It's all cyclical to some extant. Once the pressure is removed they come back.

  7. #7
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default

    MikeF, here is a paper from the SWJ library you might to look at.

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/document...treetgangs.pdf

    Also can you give more details about what you are trying to accomplish?

  8. #8
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF
    Back to Salinas...

    Maybe none of this is related. Maybe Salinas just has a gang-problem.

    Or maybe it is all inter-connected. I don't know....
    Having worked as a member of the Monterey County Joint Gang TF a couple of years ago, I'll throw out a couple of observations - even though (as I said) I'm a couple of years out-of-date....

    First, a huge contributor to the problem was the housing costs in the area. Average folks - cops, firemen, teachers, etc. couldn't afford homes, the cities couldn't afford to pay them enough to live decently there, and thus all of those occupations throughout the county were chronically understaffed - many critically so (50% or less).

    The Hispanic community, bear with me as I generalize a bit here, continued to pour into the area due to demand both in the service and the agricultural sectors - and made do by cramming several families into single-family homes. Even with multiple contributors to the mortgage/rent, the adults tended to work at least two jobs to get by. This left the kids unsupervised the vast majority of the time. Think teens and nearly-teens, couple this with a very thin educator and law-enforcement presence, and.......

    .....gang issues in all the public schools exacerbated by overcrowded classrooms and the plethora of other issues that result when public school finances are always in trouble (I bit the financial bullet and sent my daughter to RLS at the time, when I realized the nature of the problem). At night, there were some city jurisdictions with only one cop on duty, and the gang members who are all well aware of exactly how thin they're stretched across the county and have their own rat-lines they followed to avoid LE.

    Then there's the uncomfortable fact that the Gang TF was simply ineffective, due to reasons beyond its control. One huge problem was the hard fact that none of the individual city jurisdictions could communicate with each other - no 'net connectivity at all, and extremely limited comms otherwise. Sharing information on gangs operating across jurisdictions was conducted the old-fashioned way - by physically going over to the other guy's office and comparing notes. Given the size of the county and the tempo of ops, this was a long way from being even minimally effective. And even a proposed solution wasn't in the works when I left.

    Secondly, GTF ops were constrained by the reporting requirements to maintain funding. This required a steady flow of reported statistics - so the GTF had to focus on ops that drove numbers. Of course, this ended up driving low-level actions - parole searches, field interviews, traffic stops, etc. Although this did results in arrests that disrupted the young'uns at the street level, it had zero effect upon the leadership or the broader operations of the gangs. Everyone who was picked up was immediately replaceable. And with this type of low-level focus, there was little time to plan and run effective investigations and cultivate well-placed CIs. Although all recognized that was the way to go to really hurt the gangs, it took time and did not result in the type of numbers that needed to be reported.

    So, despite arrests that could make the papers (bad guys - kids - in handcuffs, drugs and weapons confiscated, etc.) none of it really meant anything, because the resources and capabilities did not exist to really run the gangs down. And due to the other socio-economic issues I mentioned, the future gang problem in the area was perceived to be darker - as the police force ages and begins to retire, there are far too few replacements for anyone's comfort......

    To talk to your another point you made:
    .....creates a vacuum, especially in terms of rule of law, dispute resolution, and mediation at the neighborhood level....
    I also worked as a volunteer mediator and mediation trainer with the Monterey County Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, a program that worked with juvenile offenders. It had great results on recidivism compared with juvie court, and did lead some kids off the gang path, but, ultimately, it was a small program and could only impact a limited number of kids. It was just a finger in the dike. It too suffered from funding support and staffing challenges.

  9. #9
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    MikeF,
    Also can you give more details about what you are trying to accomplish?
    Honestly, I dunno. I'm started investigating and compiling information b/c the subject intrigued me. I suppose that I'm trying to consider if certain lessons learned in OIF can help the boys back home.....

    Maybe my thoughts are simpling a rambling...maybe my experience is valid.

    Regardless, I'm simply struck by Jedburg....Typically, we go micro, and he counters with macro...In this case, we see a reversal.

    I'm awestruck...As with the majority of my thoughts, I continue to learn more than I could ever possibly provide to SWJ.

    I started with big thoughts to gain a response....

    As I venture further, I will explain a bit further onto the tactics or micro-level that Jedburgh speaks....At this time, I still contend that it is a mere symptom of a greater dilemma-for better or worse....

    Again, I'm asking y'alls thoughts before I explain further...

    Keep em a coming and we can debate to futher our own understand.

    i'm still waiting from a response from rob, neil, or gian....

    As much as I consider to reconsider, this debate is as relevant as Bachevich's "Great Debate."

  10. #10
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default

    Hi MikeF, have a better idea of what you want now. A couple of thoughts. LE can not solve the gang problem....they can surpress it, but they can not solve it. Kilcullen said the best weapons in COIN don't shoot. Same is true in how to deal with Gangs. Or as it has been said on other threads concentrate on the environment(community needs) and you will take care of most of the gang problem. The few hard core ones that are left leave to LE to handle.

  11. #11
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default I wouldn't do anything to deter civic mindedness nor

    to dissuade anyone from volunteering to help. Having done so a couple of times, let me warn you a few things:

    Be prepared for some of the locals to blow you off (or worse) because you're interfering or not local or will only be there a short time or for some other reason including just jealousy that you do not HAVE to cope with what they do on a permanent basis. Don't let that stop you, just don't let it get to you if it occurs.

    Don't expect to see the changes you think important; look at it as planting trees. You can help and do good things but it may take months or even years to see a result.

    Little will be done if it's your idea -- it has to be a local guys idea to get implemented and (this is important) become an embedded process. So plant the seed and let someone else take the credit. As you know, making it better is what's important.

    Go for it and have fun (and no that is not an out of place thing to say regardless of the situation -- if you aren't having fun, you aren't doing it right... ).

  12. #12
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4,020

    Default Reveille for Radicals

    Ken's comments and caveats are most likely original, but they follow (precede ?) Saul Alinsky's Reveille for Radicals (and his other stuff too) on community organizing. I suppose many to the right of the political spectrum have tended to ignore Saul Alinsky because of his personal political views - leftist.

    The techniques are useful regardless of whether one is an insurgent or a counter-insurgent (e.g., setting up a community organization a la Galula or Trinquier). So, a book worth finding.

    Interestingly, Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis on Alinsky; was offered a job with him, bur rejected it. She concluded in her thesis that his approach was too local and too slow - we needed a big government solution. PE Obama seems to have gone the other way and tied in with the Alinsky Chicago tradition.

    PS - Mike. Thinking about the nasty situations described by you and Ted, organizing the community against the gangs (assuming they have effective control) would seem more akin to being an insugent with external support and sanctuary areas (the police and the "safe areas").
    Last edited by jmm99; 11-18-2008 at 04:12 AM. Reason: add PS

  13. #13
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,061

    Default Excellent Questions

    MikeF, I was asked to present some classes on COIN to a police department that had some troubling crime trends, but operations tempo and good ole Army bureaucracy prevented a formal exchange of information. It all started in an attempt to get information from the police on how they conduct counter gang operations, so we could apply those tactics in Iraq if applicable. It became apparent during the coordination phase we could learn a lot from each other, because while they were talented and experienced, I saw that very basic tactics and procedures weren't being implemented that would have helped (they would have been perfectly legal).

    Part of that was a result of what Jedburgh addressed about tactics being driven by statistics (to justify funding), not because they were the right thing to do. Um? Sounds a lot like military operations.

    Counterinsurgency students would tell you to focus on local solutions, and of course the police have attempted to do that with neighborhood watches, increasing ethnic diversity in their forces, etc. Taking it to the extreme, such as with the son's of Iraq, well I don't think America needs or is ready for armed vigilantes yet. They would further undermine the moral fabric of our society. However, if the conditions continue to worsen you may see the raise of vigilantes, which will eventually become gangs in their own right. I think you have to be aggressive, but you stay within the confines of the law. I know no one was suggesting otherwise, just making a point.

    America is different from many traditional societies where we have been involved in counterinsurgencies, and one of those differences is that American society is now largely composed of smaller families that can and do move frequently to pursue better economic opportunities, and in some location you have a large percentage of recent immigrants, which may mean that local solutions are not as applicable as they may have been in Vietnam where a person was generally deeply rooted to his home village and family. I doubt they would have a high degree of motivation to defend their towns, since it is easier to relocate if they have the means.

    Furthermore, I suspect that this frequent dislocation actually contributes to the problem. Folks, especially the teens are looking belong to something, self worth, etc., and a gang provides that sense of family and self worth that they may not get elsewhere. Just a random thought, and even if it is true, I'm not sure it gets us any closer to solving the problem at hand.

  14. #14
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

  15. #15
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Thinking about the nasty situations described by you and Ted, organizing the community against the gangs (assuming they have effective control) would seem more akin to being an insugent with external support and sanctuary areas (the police and the "safe areas").
    Word. True dat.

    First of all, thank you for your comments and emails. I've yet to commit emotionally or physically to this problem. I suppose that I'm conducting an assessment. Several LG and LE officials came to us for some help. I'm trying to determine the parameters of how I can and want to help. As I began researching, I was struck by the similarities I saw from my own combat experiences. It is quite plausible I was simply naive and oblivious prior to actually fighting to win the nations wars...Regardless, I was intrigued by this perceived gang-problem, and I'm trying to consider how to help if I choose to...Moreover, I thought this particular case-study would be a good discussion point for SWJ.

    I'll start with Bill's comments:

    Counterinsurgency students would tell you to focus on local solutions, and of course the police have attempted to do that with neighborhood watches, increasing ethnic diversity in their forces, etc.
    I'm gonna have to disgree with you on this...I don't see a gang problem with a local solution. From my initial research, I believe the gang issues are simply symptoms of the larger social, economic, and political problems.

    As Slap suggested,
    LE can not solve the gang problem....they can surpress it, but they can not solve it.
    I recall reading (Galula in the 1962 Rand Symposium?) that the proverbial change must be simultaneously bottom-up and top-down.

    Anyways, I've gotta give some more thought to the other comments, but I thought we could start there. As with my adapted Kilcullen quote, I think that Salinas is more akin to Afghanistan than Iraq. Regardless, it is something that we will eventually have to deal with.

    Again, I'd like to thank y'all for your thoughts and comments...

    Keep em coming....We may all learn something

    v/r

    Mike

  16. #16
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default

    MikeF, this is real close to how I was taught. This was posted awhile back by SGMGRUMPY. Well worth the read.

    http://www.sandiego.gov/gangcommissi...bernardino.pdf

  17. #17
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    TN
    Posts
    278

    Default I seem to disagree a bit

    In that wrongly wired portion of my brain I have my own thoughts on ending gangs very quickly. Small group of well armed men with big balls. Put us in the worse part of town, walk up to the first gang member you spot and shoot him in the face. Then follow that up with an ambush at his funeral where you eliminate the rest of them in one quick swoop. Suddenly they would get the hint we aren't playing and would quickly change their ways. Play the game they know.

    Seriously though it needs to be a multi dimensional approach, IMO it starts with the adults, the parents and spreads from there.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  18. #18
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Olympia WA
    Posts
    531

    Default

    This is an unpopular opinion, but as I sit in the youth crisis shelter office and watch the kids idolize the "rappers" on TV that sell nothing but materialism and glorification of petty violence for the sake of petty violence, I can't help but think that finding a way to de-power these so-called artists would help greatly.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  19. #19
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    12,490

    Default Salinas & Gangs

    Mike F,

    Coming in late to ths thread and UK policing has some experience with policing gangs, mainly when inter-gang shootings attract attention, sorry invariably black on black deaths (see Operation Trident by Met in London) and some of our Northern Ireland experiences were gang related (or para military activity).

    Leaving aside the problems of political will, inter-agency working and resourcing here a few points:

    1) Establish what is actually happening? LE stats and media stories provide only signposts.
    2) What level of community engagement exists - with LE & LG. Is there any information from the community?
    3) Establish robust methods for the community to provide information in confidence; Crime Stoppers has much to offer.
    4) How effective is Local LE? That will affect community views and expectations. I base this on the contrast between New Orleans and Dallas policing - from an article I posted here sometime ago.
    5) Specialist task forces have a role, possibly only short term, so ensure all LE have a role.
    6) What are the key vulnerabilities of the gangs? I suspect LE will not know and will be reluctant to acknowledge that. In the UK LE there is little understanding of markets and business.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-20-2008 at 01:21 PM.

  20. #20
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK
    Posts
    1,065

    Default Also late

    Mike, on the macro level, see Max Manwaring's work on gangs from SSI (online - Google SSI). Also his just published book from OU Press.

    Note: MR 13 and 18th Street - two of the biggest Salvadoran gangs - started in Los Angeles and were deported home. In CENTAM, gangs are a mjor problem in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras - not so much in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Of those countries, the only one with a largely Mayan speaking population (27 Mayan languages) is Guatemala. The rest are mestizo, mixed populations with the principal indigenous language being Nahuatl, the Aztec tongue. Mexico is obviously the other major gang problem country. One of the things Max does is tie gangs to larger political and criminal trends.

    JMM, good on ya regarding Alinsky. Reveille for Radical should be required reading for all folk engaged in advisory efforts, SFA, COIN, etc. One doesn't have to accept Alinsky's ideology to make use of his techniques and his analysis of the woes of a particular population.

    Cheers

    JohnT

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •