Va. Snags $3 Million From Feds To Fight Gangs

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Virginia will receive $3 million from Congress to coordinate its many anti-gang task forces, the Washington Post reports. To underscore their new collaboration, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R) and Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) together announced the funding yesterday in Northern Virginia. Over the past two years, the three of them had formed separate task forces — with some overlapping agendas — after several high-profile gang crimes. “What we are seeing here is an unprecedented level of gang activity in Northern Virginia which has spread across the state,” Warner told federal prosecutors, police chiefs, social workers, and elected officials. “So I think it requires an unprecedented level of cooperation.”

Wolf secured the money as chairman of the committee that oversees funding for the Justice Department of Justice. In addition to that money, the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, created by Wolf in 2002, will receive $2 million. Wolf obtained the funds in response to a new FBI report on the alarming rise of a gang known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, in Northern Virginia. The study found that as many as 2,000 people belong to the group, with 22 branches identified in the area. Most of the members are teenagers, many in their early teens.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13486-2004Oct6.html

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