Date registered: Aug 2002
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FBI details threat from gangs in military
Says members of Illinois biker gangs in Iraq
Members of the Hells Angels, including an Army lieutenant colonel from Illinois, have served the U.S. military in Iraq. Another Iraq war veteran, a Marine who belongs to the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang, is charged with shooting three teens in Aurora.
They are examples of growing gang activity in the military, which "poses a threat to law enforcement officials and national security," according to a new FBI report obtained by the Sun-Times.
"The military enlistment of gang members could ultimately lead to the worldwide expansion of U.S.-based gangs," the report warned.
The report by the FBI's National Gang Intelligence Center said gang members sneak into the military by failing to report criminal convictions or using fake documents. Some have sealed juvenile records unavailable to recruiters. And most of the recruiters are not properly trained to recognize gang affiliation, the report said.
"Military recruiters under pressure to meet recruiting goals have engaged in criminal violations such as overly aggressive recruiting tactics and document falsification," said the report.
While gang members constitute a "fraction" of the military, the extent of the problem is difficult to gauge because the military is not required to provide the FBI with statistics on crime at military posts. Still, the FBI has documented disturbing examples of how gang members get into the military -- and the crimes they commit in the service.
In 2005, for instance, a Latin Kings member was allegedly recruited into the Army at a Brooklyn, N.Y., courthouse while awaiting trial for assaulting a New York police officer with a razor. He was reportedly instructed by the recruiter to conceal his gang affiliation, the report said.
Reportedly steal weapons
Many members of the Illinois-based Outlaw Motorcycle Gang and the Hells Angels have military experience and have been known to recruit soldiers due to their explosives and firearms experience, the report said. One of the most violent gangs -- the MS-13 -- is increasing its presence on or near U.S. military installations, the FBI said.
Some gang members use their military positions to steal weapons and other equipment.
Last year, an Army soldier who is a gang member identified 60 to 70 gang-affiliated military personnel in his unit allegedly involved in the theft and sale of military weapons and supplies, the report said. The soldier said many of them were sergeants in charge of ammunition and grenade distribution and that commanders were aware of their actions.
Training can be deadly
And earlier this month, two Illinois National Guard soldiers were charged with selling stolen body armor, night-vision goggles and other military equipment to undercover federal agents. A third, unnamed soldier may have intended to supply Chicago gangs with body armor he stole in Iraq, according to a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI.
Gang members in the military also are applying their battle training to the streets when they return home, the FBI warned. One Iraq veteran in California apparently relied on his Marine training in a shootout that killed a police officer and wounded another.
The Sun-Times began investigating gangs in the military last year after obtaining photos of gang graffiti on military equipment and buildings in Iraq. Some of the graffiti referred to Chicago-based gangs such as the Black Disciples and Latin Kings.
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