Gangs and Crime in Latin America, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on the International Relations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, First Session, April 20, 2005 [open pdf - 458KB]
From the opening statement of Dan Burton: "Today the Subcommittee will examine the growing threat of street gangs on security and stability in Latin America and the United States. Gangs of various kinds have existed in the United States and Latin America for years, traditionally in large metropolitan areas. In recent years, however, gang activities have grown increasingly violent and have spread to smaller cities, as well as rural areas. According to the United States Department of Justice, some 30,000 gangs, with about 800,000 members, operate in the United States. They range from small local groups to large multi-state and multinational organizations, and their growth was fueled by the explosive use of illegal drugs in the United States during the 1980s. A 2001 survey by the National Youth Gang Center showed that while all racial groups are represented in street gangs, nearly half of all members are Hispanic, many of them the children of illegal immigrants. Today's high profile street gangs are a different, more dangerous breed than their predecessors. Although, just as violent as the gangs in the past, today's street gangs are more organized with members holding clandestine meetings to exchange guns, drugs, plot strategies, target enemies, and share intelligence information on law enforcement, all the hallmarks of a criminal syndicate or terrorist network." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Adolfo A. Franco, Dan Burton, Chris Swecker, John P. Torres, Stephen C. Johnson, Kelly L. Smith, Manuel Orozco, and Robert Menendez.
Serial No. 109-96
Government Printing Office, Congressional Hearings: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/chearings/index.html