U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called yesterday for a national strategy, similar to the country’s anti-terrorism effort, to battle criminal gangs across the nation, says the Houston Chronicle. DeLay spoke after a Texas meeting with local and federal law officials, including Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt. DeLay said an antigang effort should be combined with other federal initiatives such as immigration reform, border security, and anti-terrorism programs.
At least four homicides in Houston this year have been linked to one gang, MS-13. Fort Bend County, Tx., Sheriff Milton Wright said the first step should be building a database to be shared by local law enforcement agencies. “What we want is to identify the gangs up front and attack it from that angle, the prevention and proactive approach rather than come in and solve a crime that was committed by these gangs,” Wright said. The House has passed a Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005, which authorizes increases in federal funding to support local law enforcement. It is pending in the Senate. Justice Department figures showing there are more than 25,000 active gangs with 750,000 members in 3,000 jurisdictions across the country.