Homeland vs. Gangland

If American gangs didn’t exist, foreign terrorists would have to create them. Jose Padilla (Maniac Latin Disciples) reportedly offered to provide foreign terrorists with a "dirty bomb." This made it clear to law enforcement that foreign terrorists have developed a connection — and an appreciation for — what gangs can provide a foreign terrorist group.

For example, gangs can provide foreign terrorist groups with criminals that have the freedom of movement afforded US citizens. Gangs provide an established criminal network that is comfortable with the idea of committing crimes for money, and already operate and communicate in a clandestine manner.

Law enforcement has “high speed, high tech” methods of collecting intelligence. We can utilize wiretaps, and track cellular phone use. But remember that David Berkowitz's (Son of Sam) killing spree was stopped because of a parking ticket.

Finding actionable intelligence

Patrol officers and correctional officers develop and utilize confidential informants who can produce what Federal Agents call "actionable intelligence." For the cop on patrol and the correction officer working housing areas, that means making an arrest or finding contraband.

Searches can also provide documents that provide actionable intelligence. Whether you are searching an inmate cell or a defendant's "pocket litter," you may find material that can have intelligence value.

Since 1995, I have been studying gangs and deciphering gang codes. The more I read and studied about gangs, especially the larger and more established gangs, the more I began to appreciate the depth of their beliefs and the extent to which they were committed to the gang. I began to understand that the larger gangs were actually sub-cultures of our society with their own beliefs, history, holidays, laws, goals and hierarchy. Gangs like the Latin Kings, Black Gangster Disciples, Association Neta, Bloods and Crips are gangs with national influence and organization.

As I lectured to law enforcement and civilian groups, I noticed that what really showed my audience just how organized and sophisticated these groups are, was when I showed them examples of gang codes. Showing my audience examples of the extremely ornate and complicated codes — which often involve two or even three symbols for one letter — helps demonstrate the level of organization used in gang criminal communications.

In my lecture, Gangs: Secret Codes, Signs & Symbols, I demonstrate how I have been successful in deciphering gang codes.

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