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Report Shows Concerns Growing Over San Diego Street Gangs

Evening Edition

Aired 12/5/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Cynthia Burke, Researcher, SANDAG

Cmdr. Mike Barletta, San Diego County Sheriff's Department


San Diego County is home to 158 street gangs with about 7,500 members, according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

The study, based on 2012 data, blamed gangs for about 25 percent of the crimes in the region. Many of the law enforcement officers interviewed said they believed gangs were now a bigger problem than five years ago.

"Gangs are diversifying into other areas and becoming more involved in prostitution, alien smuggling and human trafficking," said Cynthia Burke, SANDAG director of criminal justice research. "They are collaborating with each other to build more sophisticated criminal enterprises, and they are using new and advanced technology to facilitate criminal activity to a greater degree than ever before."

According the SANDAG, a regional planning agency, the study found that the average gang member joined at 13.5 years of age. The leading reason for joining a gang was because of an existing association with friends who are involved in one.

Gang involvement tends to run in families. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said they had family members in gangs.

Other key findings included:

-- gang members in the Midwest have been migrating to the southwestern

U.S. to take advantage of the drug trade;

-- the presence of gangs made up of Somali immigrants are increasing;

-- more than 50 percent of adult gang members and 31 percent of juvenile gang members have carried a firearm;

-- about half of the gang members questioned said their criminal activity included robberies and graffiti, while 95 percent said they "hang out" with other members and 91 percent they get drunk and/or high with them; and

-- 37 percent said gang membership provides a sense of belonging.

A total of 136 people -- 93 adults and 43 juveniles -- answered questions about their gang involvement, according to SANDAG.

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Avatar for user 'progressivebuthey'

progressivebuthey | December 5, 2013 at 12:59 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

it's only going to grow as the latino population grows.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | December 5, 2013 at 1:19 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Is there any existing data to support that claim?

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | December 5, 2013 at 5:44 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

There numbers will most likely grow as we purge prisoners.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | December 5, 2013 at 5:50 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Latinos should pray for time machines so that they can go back and be reborn into whatever PSEUDOPROGRESSIVEANDLAME is.

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Avatar for user 'Megan Burks'

Megan Burks, KPBS Staff | December 6, 2013 at 9 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

According to the study above, the number of arrestees affiliated with gangs was evenly split between Hispanics and whites - 29 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 6, 2013 at 9:33 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I wish it was easier to get a concealed carry permit here. It is not safe, and I am not allowed to defend myself.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | December 6, 2013 at 10:34 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Have you been rejected JM? I was looking at the process the other day and it seems a bit onerous. Does anyone know how restrictive the (person making decisions for the) county is?

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | December 6, 2013 at 11:58 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Actually, having more lax gun laws may not be the road to utopia that many people believe it to be.

Take Arizona as an example. I lived there for over 17 years and crime is actually worse there as compared to California in many categories. See below with link to official FBI stats.

Yet, Arizona is one of the best states to carry a concealed weapon as well as an "open carry" state. So, why is crime STILL higher in Arizona, even after such lax gun laws?

Arizona VS California 2012 FBI Crime stats

Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
Violent crime: 428.9 (Higher than CA: 423.1)
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter: 5.5 (Higher than CA: 5.0)
Forcible rape: 34.7 (Higher than CA: 20.6)
Robbery: 112.7 (Lower than CA: 148.6)
Aggravated assault: 276.0 (Higher than CA: 248.9)
Property crime: 3,539.2 (Higher than CA: 2,758.7)
Burglary: 807.8 (Higher than CA: 646.1)
Larceny-theft: 2,439.1 (Higher than CA: 1,669.5)
Motor vehicle theft: 292.3 (Lower than CA: 443.2)

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | December 6, 2013 at 1:32 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Eddie, in the link you provided I could not find a breakout of incidents involving CCW holders. Do you know where this data subset is located?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 6, 2013 at 2:33 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Regressive Beauty, we can always count on you for your bigoted cheap shots.

Now, get back to your AM Hate Radio. I think Roger Hedgefund should be on soon!

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 6, 2013 at 3:11 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Benz72 I have not even tried to apply. There is a lot of information on including a PDF full of approved CCW applications for San Diego county. After seeing which ones were approved, it made me think that they would not approve mine. The ones that were approved had compelling reasons, though this should not matter at all. I am not going to be irresponsible, why am I restricted from being able to defend myself? Criminals will have guns, but law abiding citizens are left helpless.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | December 7, 2013 at 10:55 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

What percentage of the San Diego first-time gang members are foster children? What percentage live with both parents? What percentage live with grandparents, step-parents?

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | December 9, 2013 at 10:11 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Here's another article with the most dangerous state in America. And California was nowhere near the top. Tennessee took the #1 spot!

Yet again, Tennessee has some of the easiest concealed carry gun laws in America, yet has the #1 most dangerous state list!

There's more to public safety than just putting guns in more people's hands!

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