More than one million gang members call America home and with that namesake comes exploding prison populations. These gang members have adopted violent behavior similar to their Mexican cartel competitors.
In fact, transnational gangs are commonplace in 80 percent of American communities. As a result, law enforcement officers must now devote more resources to combat gang-related violence in order to provide safety in communities throughout the United States.
"Transnational gangs are a worldwide problem, not confined to any single country," according to Mark Selby, unit chief for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) National Gang Unit.
As America competes in a new global marketplace, ICE points to dozens of reports that indicate transnational gangs operate in a growing number of countries. France's Gendarmerie Nationale, a leading law enforcement agency, face gang-related crime on a daily basis.
French gangs are typically affiliated with Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. These gangs are trafficking narcotics and implementing violence as a way to resolve their issues.Just like America these gangs are territorial and fiercely control criminal activity in their neighborhoods.
After listening to an ICE’s gang-related presentation at a EUROPOL meeting, Captain Benjamin Suzzoni of the Gendarmerie Nationale convinced his superiors to let him learn more about ICE’s strategy to combat transnational crime.
While the French shadowed the ICE HSI team, they learned about common gang practices and new strategies to combat transnational gangs. The French officers witnessed real-life scenarios while on a ride along with the Dallas Police Department's Gang Unit.
“That evening, Gendarmerie Nationale personnel observed firsthand some ICE HSI strategies used to combat gangs, ranging from field interviews with known gang members to how agents utilize confidential informants.”
The French officers were impressed with the effectiveness of Operation Community Shield, a national gang enforcement initiative where ICE HSI partners with international, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to combat gangs.
"We rely on all of our law enforcement partners. Without them, we wouldn't be able to successfully conduct the targeted anti-gang enforcement actions or long-term criminal enterprise investigations that we do," Selby said. "In the majority of cases, we know who we're going to arrest before we arrest them. Information sharing and intelligence from the local police departments that work with us allow us to do this."
The French officers said they would implement some of the tactics used by U.S. law enforcement in an effort to curb transnational gang activity in French communities.
Learn more about ICE's efforts to combat transnational gangs.
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