If you want to see the rising threat against law enforcement from gangs here in America, all you have to do is take a look at MS-13 as an example. The ultra-violent gang is now functionally operating in at least 40 states in the country.
In Baltimore county, seven MS-13 gang members were arrested for a brutal murder in July. Six of them were in the country illegally.
“We know that they used knives and multiple people stabbed him multiple times,” Officer Jennifer Peach told Fox 45. Peach is with the Baltimore County Police Department.
In West Palm Beach this summer, an officer was shot in the face by one of their members.
“Bottom line is, you see all these law enforcement officers across the country that are getting killed every single day because these gang members and these people out here, they don’t have the slightest hesitation to kill a law enforcement officer anymore,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. “It was almost unheard of 20 years ago. It was like everybody’s in awe that a law enforcement officer was killed. Now, it’s become commonplace and it’s got to stop.”
And only a few days ago, a man in Nashville was arrested for drug crimes who is also accused of kidnapping and beating a fellow high school student who refused to join his gang. He was here illegally after having previously been deported.
In the past two years, the number of MS-13 arrests has nearly doubled. Their crimes are beyond vicious. Take, for example, a California indictment which showed that in that particular crime, a victim’s heart was cut out.
“You’ve seen vicious acts like using machetes heads being cut off, bodies being dumped in sewer drains, shallow graves being dug. Their motto is rape, violate and control,” said Greg Nevano, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Nevano, who has worked on MS-13 cases for more than 20 years, said the gang is changing techniques.
Members aren’t posting on social media as much, they aren’t getting as many gang tattoos, and they are now floating under the radar to better prey on members of their own community.
“These are individuals who are coming in as unaccompanied children that come in with no familial relationships, no parenting. They’re afraid to come forward to law enforcement because they’re afraid of removal and deportation,” Nevano said.
He pointed out that many of these gang members are transient, which is creating a major problem for law enforcement.
That’s because when they are able to make multiple arrests in one place, fellow gang members will move elsewhere, where there’s less of a police presence.
He said the gang is well-funded and well-connected, making them a deadly threat.
Last week in Memphis, Tennessee two officers were injured – one critically – when the law enforcement gang unit served an arrest warrant.
According to Shelby County Sheriff’s Spokesman Anthony Buckner, deputies were in the home when the suspect opened fire.
SCSO and MPD are on the scene of a deputy-involved shooting in the 1200 block of Haven Circle. One deputy was shot and transported to Regional One in critical condition. A second deputy was injured and transported to ROH in non-critical condition. pic.twitter.com/CbKGJF99A9
— ShelbyTNSheriff (@ShelbyTNSheriff) September 18, 2019
The officers who were injured were part of a multi-agency gang unit. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Keli McAlister said it also included Memphis Police Department officers.
Officers in Memphis have been on particular high alert since June, when the Gangster Disciples called for the deaths of police officers after the Memphis riots.
The warning came from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, which sent a bulletin to police warning of a threat against all law enforcement by the Gangster Disciples street gang.
It came after the Memphis riots. They started when 20-year-old Brandon Webber was shot by U.S. Marshals. They killed him after he rammed their vehicles with his several times and then stepping out of his car with a weapon, officials said.
It sparked a violent riot that lead to dozens of officers and two journalists being injured when the crowd threw rocks, bottles, and chunks of cement at police on the scene.
According to the Department of Public Safety, Webber’s father made the initial threat against law enforcement, calling for retaliation for the death of his son.
The threats are considered by authorities to be against all law enforcement nationwide, but especially the Marshals.
Information from informants to DPS and to the Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators shows that the gang plans to kill a Marshal to even the score.
“We received credible intelligence that a threat had been issued on law enforcement pursuant to the events that occurred in the city of Memphis last evening,” said DPS Commissioner Marshall Fisher. “I felt it was necessary to get that information out to law enforcement.”
Authorities say police need to be on high alert when they are in public, and that all Marshals should cover their agency apparel when they are out.
“We currently have an environment nationwide where it seems that law enforcement officers are increasingly under threats of violence. It’s incumbent upon us to get information out as soon.”
Hours before his death, Webber posted a Facebook Live video that was about eight minutes long – and has since been deleted. It showed him singing in his car, smoking and driving. He sees a Memphis police cruiser at one point, says they’d have to catch him and then says he’d “do” them.
“I ain’t lying, I’m gonna do they a** so bad,” Webber said in the video.
The Gangster Disciples is one of the three largest street gangs in Mississippi. That’s according to the latest gang study by the Fusion Center, which says they were also involved with a threat on law enforcement in 2015 along with the 74 Hoover Crips.
That threat came just after Hattiesburg police officers Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen were killed and Marvin Banks was captured and charged with two counts of capital murder in their deaths.
Last month in Merced, California, Jaime Caudillo and Steven Rincon stood trial for shooting at former Merced Police Officer Ryan Rasmussen during a routine traffic stop in Merced, California on Feb. 28, 2015. Rasmussen, who lost his right pinky finger in the encounter and was forced to retire from police service, said Caudillo “stripped me of my career.”
In court, the men smiled and laughed as the judge handed them both life sentences.
The two California gang members were convicted of attempted murder of a police officer.
According to prosecutors, Caudillo, the passenger, fired at Rasmussen as Rincon sped off. Rasmussen was hit in his bulletproof vest and his hand.
Fellow officers fired at Caudillo, hitting him at least once, the Merced Sun-Star reported. The suspects fleeing the scene led to a 10-hour manhunt involving multiple law enforcement agencies that finally ended with the arrest of Caudillo and Rincon.
In May, Caudillo was found guilty of shooting Rasmussen, and Rincon of being the getaway driver. Both were charged with attempted murder, the report said.
The smiles and laughter at the sentencing were not the only time the pair showed a lack of concern for what they had done or the gravity of what was happening.
Merced County Judge Carol Ash said neither gang member appeared to express remorse during the trial.
Then there’s Mississippi, where a gang is threatening to kill a cop there as well.
The Moss Point officer who was involved in the fatal shooting of an armed suspect is now living in fear for his life and the safety of his family members. In August, we received reports that a hit is out on the officer who pulled the trigger.
Multiple officers in the Moss Point, Mississippi area may be targeted by associates of Touissant “Dime Sack” Sims following the officer involved shooting that ended Sims’ life.
Intel reveals there may be a coordinated effort to kill officers involved in the shooting, leading the officer in question to do anything to protect his family.
The threat of violence has gotten so bad, the officer has had no choice but to setup Kevlar vests around his daughter as she sleeps. As members of the police community… this is nothing short of heartbreaking.
Several of Sims’ associates have made threats to cause harm to members of law enforcement agencies and may have found information on where local officers reside.
All departments in the area were warned to stay on high alert due to the threats, as they could easily end up being targets themselves.
Officers have been strongly encouraged to demonstrate extraordinary situational awareness.
The threat is all across the country.
In Connecticut in August, Law Enforcement Today received word from numerous sources that Connecticut police officers are on alert after a gang has vowed revenge. This, after the killing by police of someone said to be a high-ranking member of the gang “Los Solidos”.
But to make matters worse, sources tell LET that no official warning has been issued to area police because of politics.
“All of our officers are on high alert after intelligence suggested that Los Solidos is planning revenge for the death of one of their guys,” the source told LET.
When asked why no official notice has been sent out to area law enforcement, a separate source told us it’s because of the political divide in Connecticut.
“Many of these gang members aren’t here legally,” said a high ranking officer.
The officers we interviewed asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to comment on the threat.
“Given the ‘sanctuary’ status we are looking at here in Connecticut, the optics would be bad for Mayor Bronin. His far left policies are single handedly responsible for the dangers that we are all facing in this city.”
A third source who reached out to LET said the gang is well known, and it’s the younger gang members who are the real danger.
“The older, more established members of the gang know that declaring war on LE would be bad for business,” said the source. “It’s these 18 to 22-year-old kids that start to run their mouth, try and prove themselves…. that’s why things get bad.”
Another officer told LET that he chose to share the information about the threat because not doing so creates a “clear and present danger”.
“It’s absolutely ludicrous that area officers – not just Hartford cops – would be put on notice.”
Here’s the back story.
An officer was involved fatal shooting in Hartford, Connecticut.
Within a few days, body camera footage had been released showing the final moments that 41-year old Alphonso Zaporta did the unthinkable- grabbed the responding officer’s gun.
Hartford Police officers attempted to pull over Zaporta on a Hartford side street on Friday night. Zaporta fled the attempts of police and managed to maneuver onto I-84 westbound but drove into a construction site.
A press release from the Tolland State’s Attorney’s office also reveals that “stop sticks” were implemented. The pursuing officers approached Zaporta’s disabled vehicle on foot.
The only passenger in the vehicle surrendered readily to police but Zaporta was not going to be taken easily.
The incredible body cam footage captured from three of the five responding officers shows a nightmare unfold as Zaporta struggles with one of the officers and seizes his service weapon.
The Tolland State’s Attorney’s Office says:
“The driver of the vehicle engaged in a struggle with officers. During the struggle, the driver gained control of one of the officer’s department-issued firearm. Another Hartford Police detective then fired multiple rounds at the driver. The shots were fatal.”
The dramatic footage shows that Zaporta is warned as an officer shouts “You’re going to get shot, bro”.
Detective Zack Sherry then made a necessary decision firing three shots into Zaporta, preventing possible tragedy for the officers as well as the community.
The video footage shows an officer picking up the service weapon from the asphalt after Zaporta’s body lay motionless on the ground.
In a press conference, Mayor Luke Bronin joined with Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody to provide further details of the dramatic shooting.
Mayor Luke Bronin praised the expedited release of the video footage by the State’s Attorney’s Office saying “we think the public has the right to see what happened on Friday night.”
The entire night’s events stems from a greater investigation Police Chief Thody explains. He says:
“It was more than just a traffic stop. It was part of an investigation into gun related activity that happened earlier in the month.”
A 9mm handgun loaded with 16 rounds was found in Zaporta’s vehicle. The gun is believed to have been stolen in Massachusetts. Connecticut and Massachusetts laws both restrict firearm capacity to only 10 rounds unless they meet exemptions or registrations.
In an official press release, the State’s Attorney extended his condolences to Mr. Zaporta’s family. However, Zaporta’s family remains in disbelief.
“None of this is making sense” Olivia Richard, Zaporta’s mother said to NBC Connecticut.
Zaporta has an extensive criminal history, according to a WFSB news team. Zaporta’s recent charges included assault, illegal possession of a firearm, interfering with an officer and/or resisting arrest and burglary.
Hartford Police Union Sargeant John Szewczyk released a statement supporting Detective Sherry, a 14 year veteran of the force, saying:
“The incident involved a highly respected detective with an impeccable record of service. At this point, all the information available shows his actions were justified.”
Detective Sherry works the Vice/Intelligence/Narcotics Division as well as the States Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force, according the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Officer Police Chief Thody explains that Officer Last and Detective Sherry are on a mandatory two week administrative leave but it is not punitive. He clarifies to the press:
“It’s not a matter of a forced leave. It’s a matter of providing officers opportunities to make sure they’re okay before they come back.”
Then to San Diego.
There had been a year of declines. But now gang-related crime in San Diego has spiked in recent months with the city logging twice as many homicides as the same time last year and 20 percent more gang-related crimes overall.
Enter: a progressive city council member complaining that police stops “proved” that the San Diego PD’s Gang Suppression unit was stopping too many gang members.
So what happened? Crime started jumping when the appointed police chief, seemingly to gain favor with the new administration, changed the mission of the proactive decorated unit.
The new progressive agenda? Some say it’s to curtail their gang suppression focus and contact to reduce the data by limiting this proactive police tactic.
The numbers show it all. There’s been a rash of shootings, retaliation attacks and other crimes that’s now put the raw number of gang-related crimes this year far ahead of the number through July 2018.
Here are the police statistics.
There were 463 gang-related crimes committed through June. That’s up from 385 during the same period last year – an increase of 78 crimes which is reflected in nearly all categories.
Last year at this time there had been five gang homicides. So far this year, 10. In all of 2018, there were six.
On top of that, the data also shows there have been more robberies, assaults with a deadly weapon and attempted murders.
The official statement is that nobody knows why there’s a sudden surge in gang crime, and police officials say there’s no gang war.
The did, however, acknowledge violence between rival gangs had intensified over the summer.
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Let’s look at the overall violent crime rate in the city. It’s increased slightly over the past two years, and it’s an upward trend that was a factor in a decision made earlier this year by Chief David Nisleit and top police brass to overhaul the Gang Suppression Team.
That’s the aforementioned team which traditionally focused on combating gang crime in the region.
Look back at what they did in April.
Police leaders renamed the group the Special Operations Unit. They also told them to respond to any source of violent crime across the city, including but not limited to violent gang activity… a move snuck through with no publicity.
“There was an increase in violent crime occurring in the city and (Nisleit) wanted to use the Gang Suppression Team to zero in on that issue,” said Lt. Shawn Takeuchi, the department’s spokesman. “The team was tied to crimes with a gang nexus, but he wanted to use their skill set, so he decided to expand their role.”
So what did those duties consist of?
For one, the team of officers patrolled neighborhoods where gangs were active.
And while department leaders have credited the team with keeping gang crimes in check, not everyone was on board. The presence of the officers and their work was criticized by some neighborhood residents – shocker. Those residents complained of heavy-handed tactics and aggressive policing. Over the years some activists have called for disbanding the team.
According to Takuechi, there is still a group of detectives focusing on gang crimes exclusively.
He also said the officers in the former gang team now have a broader responsibility to assist investigating violent crimes throughout the city. He added the leadership was hopeful the team would be able to manage both tasks of investigating violent crimes and gang crimes.
“We have a duty to respond to and investigate crimes and arrest offenders that we feel are responsible,” he said. “We’ve rebranded (the unit) because the chief saw an increase in violent crime and we cannot let that increase happen.”
Around the same time that all of this went down, the department also created the Gang Intervention Unit.
It was formed in March with an aim of working closely with community members and young people to prevent future gang violence.
The difference is they don’t conduct the intensive street patrols that was the hallmark of the suppression team.
The same month that the Special Operations Unit was inaugurated, a month-by-month breakdown of gang incidents provided by police shows the rise in gang crimes began.
In the first three months of the year, police logged one fewer gang crime than the same three month period in 2018… but by April there were 23 more than by the same month a year ago. Add 29 more in May, 57 more in June and 78 more in July. We’re talking total gang-related crimes by the same month in 2018.
Data isn’t yet out for August, but it appears the trend is continuing.
Here are a handful of cases.
Just over four days in August, a 19-year-old man was injured in what police say is a gang-related shooting near Kelly Street in Linda Vista.
Then on August 11, four people were hurt during a shootout between two rival gangs. It happened in Valencia Park on South Euclid near Logan Avenue.
That first shooting location has been a hot spot – like on May 23 when 16-year-old Carlos Valdovinos was shot to death in a drive-by shooting.
Prosecutors have charged Andy Phongsongkham with the murder – a man said to be a member of an Asian street gang and the victim an associate of a Hispanic gang.
Only a few weeks later, police say two people were shot near a memorial that had been set up for Valdovinos.
Both survived – neither talked to the cops.
Flash forward August 7, when a 19-year-old man was wounded again on Kelly Street in what police say was yet another gang-related shooting.
A citywide analysis over the past five years of violent crime shows that area has also experienced an increase in overall violent crime. We’re talking about an increase of 250 percent in that small area of Linda Vista between 2014 and 2018.
Then you’ve got a couple of more homicides in July involving gang members – On July 5, 37-year-old Dustin Bridwell was shot to death outside his home on Calle Gaviota in Paradise Hills… and on July 13, Joaquin Ruiz was murdered on Zest Street near Paradise Valley Road also in Paradise Hills.
State law defines a gang-related crime as one that is committed at the direction of, for the benefit of, or in association with a criminal street gang.
So far, no arrests have been made in either case.
Throwing back to last year, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office gang unit issued murder charges against six people in two gang-related homicides committed that year.
But statistics provided to the media by the office show they did not issue any gang murder cases after May 2018.
As far as this year goes? Already there’ve been murder charges filed against five defendants — all between May and July — in three separate cases.
Deputy District Attorney Frank Jackson leads the unit. He weighed in and said prosecutors are aware of the upswing in gang crimes.
“I’ve seen the same stats and noticed the same trends,” he said. “My division is trying to be as active as possible to try to solve these, to get ahead of the curve, to try to tamp this down. There is definitely an increase over previous years.”
He wouldn’t weigh in on if redeploying the gang suppression team has led to an increase in gang crimes.
“I’m going to leave it to SDPD to decide how to utilize their resources,” he said.