The FBI's recently released National Gang Threat Assessment 2009 finds gang membership and activity on the rise inside the United States.
A compilation and analysis of information from 3,052 state and local law enforcement agency responses, along with reviews of gang-related criminal investigative information and other agency data, the National Gang Threat Assessment 2009 is a collaborative effort of the National Gang Intelligence Center and the National Drug Intelligence Center. The report finds gang membership and activity on the rise. 58 percent of state and local enforcement agencies reported active criminal gangs in their area, compared to 45 percent in 2004.
Other key findings:
- Local street gangs continue to account for the largest number of gangs nationwide.
- Gang members commit as much as 80 percent of crime in some localities.
- Gang membership was estimated at 1 million in September 2008, up from 800,000 in 2005. 147,000 are incarcerated, but that does not stop gang activity. Prison gangs are involved in drug distribution and sometimes even control activities in communities through members who have been released back into the community.
Currently, there are 11 national-level street gangs identified in the United States.
There are big regional variations: states in the Pacific, Southwest, and Central regions have the highest percentage of gang members.
Law enforcement officials in communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have noticed a rise in the number of local gang members who are trying to establish dual membership with counterparts in Mexico. They also see gangs in U.S. increasingly smuggling weapons into Mexico.
Open source data, such as news reports, suggest a rise in violence among gangs in some urban areas.
There is some concern about gang members who have gone into the military, thereby gaining combat training skills that they then take back to their gang communities. Also, as they are deployed to different military locations, they sometimes start up branches of their gang in those locations.
For more, read the full report National Gang Threat Assessment 2009 .