Washington, D.C.’s suburbs will get nearly $5 million more in federal money to combat what members of Congress says is “an exploding gang problem” that needs aggressive, regional cooperation to solve, reports the Washington Post. “This problem isn’t limited to one community,” said Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va), who announced House passage of a spending bill that includes money for anti-gang initiatives. Included is $2.5 million to fund Northern Virginia’s Regional Gang Task Force and $2.3 million for Maryland’s Regional Gang Initiative.
The money would be used not only for law enforcement but also for education and prevention programs. Wolf, who has secured more than $10 million for gang prevention programs in Virginia since 2003, said he is pushing the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to open clubs in two counties to create safe places for at-risk children after school. One of the biggest threats to local safety is the spread of Latino gangs. Salvadoran immigrants founded the violent Mara Salvatrucha gang in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Since then the gang, known as MS-13, has spread to more than 30 states and several Central American nations.