Gang Members Get Trained in the Army

La Opinión, News Report, Claudia Núñez, Translated by Peter Micek Posted: Mar 09, 2008

LOS ANGELES – While hundreds of Mexican soldiers are deserting the army to join drug trafficking gangs, California is facing the opposite problem: A growing number of gang members here have infiltrated the U.S. Armed Forces in order to receive military training.

The numbers speak for themselves: In 2003 there were just 16 incidents of gang members in the U.S. Armed Forces, while in 2006 the total was 10,309, according to the study, "Gang-Related Activity in the U.S. Armed Forces Increasing," released in 2007 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Twenty-two official entities, including the Los Angeles Police Department, participated in the report.

This study, classified as sensitive and meant for use by official agencies, reveals the presence of street gangs like the Mexican Mafia (EME), the Mara Salvatrucha, Hells Angels, The 18th Street Gang, the Norteños, the Sureños, as well as various supremacist groups on military bases.

Two years before this report came to the light, the Ceres Police Department, in northern California, already knew its fatal results.

Howard Stevenson, sergeant of the force, was killed by Andrés Ray, a Marine who went AWOL from Camp Pendleton and who police say was a longtime member of the Norteños.

According to a report by the Ceres Police, Raya shot the sergeant five times in cold blood, with two shots to the head. Three other officials were injured in the incident and the gang member lost his life.

As a result of the bloodshed, local Police Chief Art De Werk told his staff to treat the anti-gang fight as an exercise in military strategy.

"Gang members are using the techniques and skills learned in the Army to commit crimes, and there is no doubt about that. The worrisome thing is that they endanger not only officials but all of society," says Gregory Lee, former supervisor of the national Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and private consultant in Los Angeles.

In Southern California the orders are clear: Any indication that a gang member has military training must immediately be reported.

Each time authorities enter a gang member’s house, said an anti-gang official who preferred to remain anonymous, "We have precise orders to look for photos, Army uniforms, anything related to the Army or that demonstrates a military training of that gang or gang member."

That information is classified in a special gang database, according to the source.

"For us, it is vital to know if we are confronting an enemy with military training," says Lieutenant George Zagurski, member of the intelligence unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He declined to state the number of local gang members known to have been trained by the Army.

"These are facts for exclusive and official use. We do not want to discuss this with the public," the lieutenant told La Opinión.

Despite the confidential nature of the topic, some experts calculate that out of 100 people who enter the Army, two have a gang affiliation.

"It’s an open secret that the ringleaders of local gangs are encouraging their younger members to enter the Army and receive military training and later to train the rest of the group," claims the former DEA advisor.

The National Gang Task Force reports that from 2003 to 2006, the Army investigated more than 100 cases of crimes that involved soldiers related to the most dangerous gangs in the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Armed Forces Criminal Investigation Command has documented the death of at least two soldiers – killed, it appears, by other soldiers with ties to rival gangs. It also registered an increase in the amount of violent incidents between soldiers who are affiliated with gangs.

"Officials do not want this topic spoken about because it uncovers how the Army, in its rush to recruit more soldiers, has had to lower its security standards, allowing in volunteers with criminal backgrounds. We all know that a high number of soldiers has died on the battlefield and others have deserted. We don’t have enough soldiers and the Army has strict orders to increase the number of enlisted troops nationwide, even if that means recruiting criminals," Lee maintains.

Under the so-called "moral waiver," the Armed Forces between 2003 and 2006 permitted into the Army 4,230 convicted criminals, 43,977 people with misdemeanors on their records and 58,561 drug addicts. In 2007, another 10,000 people with criminal records were recruited by the Pentagon, according to an investigation by the Michael D. Palm Center, based in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"The problem is not that the Armed Forces are recruiting convicts. On the contrary, we think that the Army has very good programs of rehabilitation. The problem is the increase. The Army is more worried about filling its recruitment quotas than in looking for the best candidates," says lead researcher Michael Bucai.

Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more difficult to detect links between gangs and those interested in enlisting in the Army. According to gang experts, these mafias are using new strategies to infiltrate their members into the Armed Forces.

"Many older gang members are taking care of their newer members so that they maintain a clean criminal record and thus can have unrestricted access to the Army or guns," says an anti-gang official. "We have noticed that in common crimes, gang members are forced to give the name of another member of the group that already has a record so that he gets written up and helps the others to remain clean."

The infiltration of gang members into the Armed Forces must be taken seriously because it represents an important risk for local and national security, says the former DEA agent.

"Gang violence is getting more and more acute and bloody and is the price that society must pay for the faults in the system," Lee opines.

On various occasions, La Opinión tried to contact the Department of Defense spokesperson to understand how they are dealing with the issue. However, as of this issue, there has been no response.

At an international anti-gang police summit in Los Angeles on March 3, officials weighed in about whether gang members have infiltrated the U.S. military.

"These are just rumors," said Christy McCampbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. For his part, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he did not know of any evidence of gang infiltration in the U.S. Army but would consider looking into the matter.

Also at the summit, Martín Escorza, head of the National Gang Task Force, said the issue is real. Adding to the problem, he said, is the presence of gang members trained in the armed forces of their respective countries, like El Salvador or Mexico.

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User Comments

Mike on Apr 06, 2008 at 15:15:55 said:

Brothel owner asks to suppress evidence

By BEN NEARY • Associated Press Writer • January 15, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The owner of a Nevada brothel who’s charged with possessing and transporting child pornography in Wyoming has asked a federal judge to suppress the evidence against him.

A lawyer for David Burgess, 55, says the government’s search of his laptop computer following a traffic stop last summer violated his constitutional rights.
Burgess is owner of the Old Bridge Ranch, a legal brothel east of Reno, Nev. He’s also a leader of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in Nevada.
James H. Barrett, assistant federal public defender in Cheyenne, represents Burgess. Barrett on Monday asked U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson to block prosecutors from using the seized computer materials in court.
In his suppression request, Barrett states that Burgess was a passenger in a motor home that a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper pulled over last July near Evanston. The trooper stopped the motor home because it was pulling a trailer with expired tags.
According to a police statement, both the driver and Burgess told police they were members of the Hells Angels and were traveling to the 2007 Hells Angels USA Run in Eureka Springs, Ark.
Barrett states that a Uinta County Sheriff’s deputy happened by during the traffic stop and volunteered the use of his drug dog to sniff around the motor home. The dog reportedly alerted on the door to the motor home.
Although Burgess told police that they needed a warrant to search the motor home, Barrett states that both the state trooper and the deputy searched the inside of the motor home, finding marijuana and a substance the police believed to be cocaine.
State drug charges were filed against Burgess, but were later dismissed.
Troopers impounded the motor home after the traffic stop.
Barrett states that police applied for a search warrant to allow them to search the motor home and trailer for “evidence of controlled substances or dealing in controlled substances,” including computer records. They also applied to search for personal property that would “tend to show a conspiracy to sell drugs.”
Jim Anderson, assistant U.S. Attorney in Cheyenne, said at a court hearing last month that a search of a laptop computer found in the motor home showed it to be “chock full” of child pornography, leading to the pending criminal charges against Burgess.
Anderson hasn’t yet filed a response to Barrett’s suppression motion.
Barrett points out in his argument to Judge Johnson that the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that warrants must “particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons and things to be seized.”
Barrett argues that the warrant in Burgess’ case was written so broadly that it allowed the officers conducting the case to determine on their own what they could seize. “All computer records and personal property fall within the ambit of the warrant,” he wrote.

-- edited by the publisher.

morrison on Mar 28, 2008 at 17:24:45 said:

I am sure david needs all the prayers he can get poor dude.

jackson on Mar 28, 2008 at 17:22:19 said:

Pray dude

Mike on Mar 19, 2008 at 11:34:17 said:

Mrs hells angel I guess you approve of child molestation and children being murdered by hells angels .I guess all the points Miss Kane and I made mean nothing to someone like you. You probably have sex with minors and you probably watch child porn and you may have even murdered some children.How can you argue with me when I am a against hells angels members who have raped molested and murdered women and children? Do you think the child porn the police said they found on Dave the hells angels president from Nevada was meant to be for entertainment for the Hells angels 60 years bash? I Do. Well thanks for showing your concern for our Missing, abused and murdered children. Your thoughts have been made clear have fun at the hells angels 60 year Bash and I hope no children will be sexually abused or murdered there for your entertainment.

1Mrs.Hells Angel on Mar 19, 2008 at 00:52:47 said:

Mr.Mike you sure have alot to say about people you don't even know.You are the kind of person that is REAL SCARY to me.Maybe you should find a "nice girl" and settle down......but if talking trash makes u feel the a big guy then type away...have you ever tried talking face to face?......DIDN'T THINK SO>>>>>>

tonya kane on Mar 16, 2008 at 01:19:23 said:


Mike on Mar 12, 2008 at 09:25:00 said:

Fred why does the truth about a gang of child molesting scumbag hells angels make you want to say something bad about me?What kind of man are you that you try to make fun of a man that does not like child molesters or child murders?why would I need therapy ? not liking child molesting scumbags like hells angels is normal. Prospect for what and wanna be what?couln't be what? finish typing I am not a mind reader My name is Mike how would that make me a club Mama? The hells angels are gay they have club papas and big bears. I am not gay so was that a joke? I really don't understand hells angels always having supporters write the papers on their behalf but most of the times you support members are so far off that people in the real world have no idea what is on your mind Fred.Fred your different then most humans your sub human a hells angel or a hells angels support member that may think harming children and women is ok. Fred its not ok . Fred child molesting is wrong, child killing ,is wrong women molesting is wrong, killing women is wrong, child porn is wrong. understand Fred thats why I wrote in.

Fred on Mar 12, 2008 at 06:07:05 said:

Mike were you a club mama that gor to old to ride and then abandoned by a bike club somewhere? You need therapy dude, maybe you prospected and failed? Wannabe? Never could be?

Mike on Mar 11, 2008 at 21:57:34 said:

Justin in the USA we have Men. Men don't allow other men that want to be called hellsangel orhotty hells angel or lover boyhells angel run the show.. We don't let them bully us around . USA Men WE stand up against child and women abuse.sure we have sissy boy clubs that date the Hells angels and wear the I believe in angels patch to show they date a hells angel member or they put a 81 sticker on to show they allow angels to stick them. But most men in the USA really don't care what the punks in the Hells angels are doing. Hells angels hold no territory in the USA by force . they just happen to be there and they date other men in the local support clubs thats all there is to that story. So Justin your just a hells angels support scumbag.

Mike on Mar 11, 2008 at 21:43:28 said:

I meant to say it’s all the hells angels that carry child porn rape, molest and murder children and women that I have a problem with. Also all the hells angels that stand behind these child and women abusers and all the hells angels that have to gang up on people when their is a large amount of hells angels. And all the hells angels that wear that silly looking chicken head on their backs and all the support member army of cop calling liars. Other then that I think the Hells Angels are a Swell gang of guy out for fun and pleasure with other men their age or a lot younger. Dirty diapers may save a child from a Hells angel

Mike on Mar 11, 2008 at 21:22:34 said:

Justin I think the angels are a gang of scum and they do not do the dirty work for the any Mafia. You are a fool that breeds lies to make the angels sound big and important when they are really a gang of punks and child molesters. It hells angels support members like you that are dangerous your lies have sent an innocent man to prison for defending himself against a hells angels support member like you scum bag. If a policeman sees a known gang member come out a door after him and appear to have a weapon that police officer can fire in self defense well when William did that all you hells angels support members put him in jail with your lies? Hells angels are not dangerous unless they are in a large gang with weapons. They are mostly cowards and very far out of shape that’s why they have punks like you spread lies to make them appear tough. It’s like watching the wizard of ozz and he uses the screen to be big and scary and when you look beyond you will see a little coward trying to survive that would be the hells angels except the Hells angels would be the Gay version of the wizard of ozz. It’s not a mock on the gays I am by no means a gay basher. It’s not because the hells angels are mostly gay that I do not like them I don't care about that that’s not my business. It’s the members that carry porn and molest rape and murder children and women that I do not like. Understand clown police officers can fire in self defense well when William a Club member did that all you hells angels support members put him in jail with your lies. Hells angels are not dangerous unless they are in a large gang with weapons. They are mostly cowards and very far out of shape that’s why they have punks like you spread lies to make them appear tough. It’s like watching the wizard of ozz and he uses the screen to be big and scary and when you look beyond you will see a little coward trying to survive that would be the hells angels except the Hells angels would be the Gay version of the wizard of ozz. It’s not a mock on the gays I am by no means a gay basher. It’s not because the hells angels are mostly gay that I do not like them I don't care about that that’s not my business. It’s the members that carry porn and molest rape and murder children and women that I do not like. Understand clown Hells angels are very dangerous to children and women. Children don’t commit crimes Hells angels do. Never leave a child in the hands of hells angels.

Justin on Mar 11, 2008 at 18:09:17 said:

Mike are you kidding me?? Your very lucky that you are able to hide behind your computer!! The Angels are a lot more organized and dangerous than you think....for one reason..the Italians need them to carry out their dirty work and they are puppet enought to follow orders. You guys just dont get it. These are problems that are never ever ever going to go away! this is gorilla warfare on the streets. I am Canadian and I see it happening in my I can imagine how bad it is in places like LA, NY, Detroit, KC et al. You guys can have your uncle sam comebacks all night cuz I am not going to be checking to see what you losers are going to say!!! Forza Italia, there is only one "mafia" people...and it aint located in an American ghetto....

Mike on Mar 11, 2008 at 15:59:57 said:

Anyone that knows about the hells angels knows they have been being arrested for child molestation from the early days but who cares? They stole the name of the hells angels not one motorcycle member was ever in the real hells angels that fought for our country. But who cares? The hells angels’ motorcycle took a name that had glory and used it as their own even though it was not. But who cares? The hells angels had 5 members in the paper over the last year for molesting and murdering women and children. But who cares? The hells angels and their support members use the court system to put innocent men in jail. But who cares? Dave the president of the Nevada hells angels got caught with child porn, he is trying to use a technicality to get away with it. But who care? A lot of children are missing mothers this year because hells angels have murdered their Mothers. But who care? A lot of parents are missing children this year because hells angels killed them. But who cares? A lot of kids will spend their lives in despair because they were raped and molested by Hells angel. But who cares? I Do Support you American troop keep hells angels and child abuser out of our armed forces. I am proud to be an American proud of my President and my Military.

Angie on Mar 11, 2008 at 12:58:47 said:

In the "hood" it is harder to make something of yourself than to just live in mediocrity and colect welfare checks, food stamps and deal drugs!

eric on Mar 11, 2008 at 11:45:04 said:

um...I was in the navy in '99. What's most surprising is that this is coming out now. Many of my shipmates were convicted drug dealers/gang bangers/criminals who were offered 4 years in the military (branch of choice) to avoid jail time. There was a huge gang problem at pensecola and jacksonville. I even met guys claiming to do drive by's on there leave. 2003-2006 my butt!

-- edited by the publisher.

History Buff on Mar 10, 2008 at 23:12:36 said:

Who put Saddam in power?
Who armed Iraq?
Who smuggled heroin into the US in the 70s?
Who trained Osama?
Who armed Iran?
Who smuggled cocaine into the US in the 80s?
Who occupies the country that produces 93% of the world's opium crop?
Who is giving military training in urban warfare to gang members?

The answer to all of these question is the US 'government' - draw your own conclusions.

Dan'l on Mar 10, 2008 at 17:40:07 said:

Anyone who knows jack about the Angels knows their first members were largely returned soldiers and they have in the past offered their services to the military.

Mike on Mar 10, 2008 at 17:12:09 said:

C the hells angels members are very out of shape. Not one of them can fight without their gang. If you think the hells angels members are tough you must be a real punk.Hells angels are the only Motorcycle club that have more women and children that are their victims then men. I consider the hells angels a gang of child and women sexual abusers if this is your idea of a bad ass club you are a weak sick degenerate and you should be in prison away from children and women.

C on Mar 10, 2008 at 11:06:07 said:

Mike: Thanks, but we know the hells angels are super badasses already but child and spousal abuse is everywhere. Ever heard of the catholic church?, sounds like a gang to me.

The real problem is that we've got gangs within gangs, learning to think alike, fight alike, and to exploit the others weakness. You don't think the military itself is a gang?, think again. Our government is a gang, the policeforce is a gang. Americans are the gangsters of the world from a military perspective.

ABQ on Mar 10, 2008 at 09:56:36 said:

We shouldn't give gangs so much credit for being able to control their members once they leave the 'hood to join the military. Most of these kids are looking for a way out. Looking for a way out of the abusive control of the gang life. A way out of poverty and hopelessness. A way out of the isolation of the 'hood. The military has long been a way for young men to recieve direction and discipline lacking in their lives. It has put them on the road of a purposeful life for the benefit of their country and community. At the very least the military takes them off the streets and gives them a useful job. Don't bother with conspiracy theories of gangs infiltrating the military to train their young recruits. If gangsters were that smart they wouldn't be in jail, or even be gangsters for that matter. They are loose affiliations of drugaddled bullies. The military delivers young men from that world.

McCain on Mar 09, 2008 at 19:21:48 said:

is wrong on one main issue.He wants to try children as adults for violent crimes.Violent crimes do not turn children into adults.18 is 18 and some 21 year olds in college are still acting like children. A violent crime is not proof your a adult.

Mike on Mar 09, 2008 at 15:41:05 said:

I don't want to leave out the wonderful people of Cambodia and the Great temples of Angkor Wat. I hope the people of southern Asia always keep their culture and believes. I hate when Westerners push Christianity on other cultures. Helping others does not give us the right to push our values ,ideas and silly religions.Buddhist people are the friendliest kindness wonderful people in the world.I have lived all around the world and I know first hand what I speak of.

Mike on Mar 09, 2008 at 11:32:01 said:

Sorry kawahchan I meant to say I hope your right . Sorry about putting your name instead of mine.

kawahchan on Mar 09, 2008 at 11:27:30 said:

kawahchan The Burmese are all great people as are the Thai,and Lao . I love those countries and I believe God Sits on the mountains in Laos and Visits the Wats in all those countries .I am sure he loves the great Shwedagon that was built with love respect and honor. God has blessed Thailand with a wise King that loves and protects his people.Long live the King.

kawahchan on Mar 09, 2008 at 10:39:23 said:

If 2008 Presidential Hopeful JOHN McCAIN is elected as our US Presidential, the forthcoming 2009 McCAIN administration in 2009 White House will require our US National Reserved Guards to attend at least 3-6 semester hours course(s) per year at their local 2-year community college to achieve the quality of American's "Transforming Lives". 2009 McCAIN administration believe in a today's American military must promote their "Transforming Lives" such as studying part-time Pre-Law College of "Criminal Justice Courses (CJ)"; Foreign Language as majority American's 2nd language to qualify as a CIA's "Special Armed Force" or a new shape-up US Embassy's officer/official. Because JOHN McCAIN's 2009 White House, there will be some CIA joint-operation with Burma's Karen, Shan, and Karenni to control the Eastern Burma's territory near Thailand border. McCAIN government will reform a Arms- Sale Bill to those pro-U.S.A. Laotian and Hmong rebel fighters for self-defense to defend their villagers, families and helping U.S. government's anti-Opium, anti-Cocain, anti-Heroin, illegal drug-trafficker, selling Asian women and youths.

Mike on Mar 09, 2008 at 08:55:56 said:

I would like to thank all the men from all the other gangs except the hells angels for their support in helping make America and the world a better place for everyone.I trust any gang member fighting for our country will do the right thing with a gun. But I will never trust a Hells Angels Member with a child.I think the hells angels have got to start here in America and dismantle their club that attracts so many women and child abusers.The hells angels support members are always trying to please their angel man and they go around causing trouble with people that do not like hells angels. when the hells angels support members get beat up they press charges putting innocent men in jail and the hells angels spread like aids from infected man to infected man.The results I read about hells angels members abusing women and children and see friends go to jail for trying to stop the spread of the hells angels chicken head disease.I know a Hero that got 28 years in jail for self defense because of the hells angels and their support army working with the DA .hells angels support members lieing to put free men in prison is as non American as women and child abuse. Hells angels should be thrown out of the Military. Anyone supporting a Hells angels should be in prison because they are the spreading force behind their Hells angels men.This is all my opinion and its great to be in a free Country where I can post it.Thanks to Every member of the USA armed Forces and thank you President Bush for sticking up for people around the world that can not fight for their own freedoms. Proud to be an American proud of our Military and Very proud of our President.

Mike on Mar 09, 2008 at 08:32:06 said:

his year Dave from the Hells angels President from Nevada is on child porn charges caught with his lap top fullof child Pornography. Russell Sinkis Mass has a little girl saying he sodomized her and 3 women have orders of protection on him Robert Thompson from Cali is going to trail for murdering 2 little girls.Danile Roberts Maine shot a mother of three in the back of the head got 55 years. Paul Eischeids wanted for killing a mother of 6.I really do not think you willsee many hells angels in the armed forces they are natural born cowards.




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