Fueled by drug money and revenge, street gangs have flourished and spread across Southern California and beyond, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. The newspaper blames ineffective law enforcement efforts and inadequate intervention strategies. gangs have grown more brutal, engaging in a level of violence that holds many poor and minority communities in near constant terror.
There are about 100,000 gangsters in more than 1,300 gangs in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties. They make up less than 1 percent of the population but commit at least half the region’s homicides, taking the lives of nearly 3,100 people in Southern California since 1999, more than three times the number of U.S. casualties in the war in Iraq. Law enforcement officials, community activists, and gang experts agree the “celebration of the culture of violence” among gang members is the region’s top crime problem and becoming a national problem as transplanted Los Angeles gangs and their imitators take hold in inner cities across the country. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said more police officers are needed to “secure the beachheads” but they must be combined with greatly expanded intervention, prevention and other community programs. “The irony is we can fix it,” Bratton said. “It’s all about more police and keeping at it. It’s about resources.”