Federal law enforcement authorities have coupled multi-agency task forces with strategies that once focused on Mafia-era crime syndicates to target national and international gangs, reports the Washingon Times. Some gangs are considered security threats, such as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, with an FBI estimate of 10,000 members in 42 states.
For the first time, analysts, agents and prosecutors from various government agencies will work together to try to lower the rate of gang crimes, which include homicides, drug smuggling, rape, prostitution, robbery, home invasions, kidnappings, and carjackings. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was enacted in 1970 to fight the Mafia, allowing prosecutors to target “not just individual members, but leaders of the organization,” said U.S. Attorney Rod. J. Rosenstein in Maryland, where the law has been used against reputed members of MS-13. Using RICO, Rosenstein said, “you can have a broader impact on the gang, putting them out of business at least temporarily and, hopefully, longer.” The task forces involved are the Gang Squad, which prosecutes national and international gang members; the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), which analyzes patterns and trends; and the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement & Coordination Center (GangTECC), which develops cases for prosecutors.