In a recent article, KSAT (Click2Houston) reported on a Texas Safety Department report identifying four gangs that were considered the biggest threats in Texas: Tango Blast, Latin Kings, Texas Mexican Mafia and MS-13. The report also included a detailed concern about the potential for future gang-related targeting of officers in Texas. The likelihood of gangs targeting law enforcement has been on the FBI’s radar for many years, especially those gangs with members who have received military training.
Military-trained gang members pose a serious threat to law enforcement and to the public. They learn combat tactics in the military, then return home to utilize these new skills against rival gangs or law enforcement. Military training of individual gang members could ultimately result in more sophisticated and deadly gangs, as well as deadly assaults on law enforcement officers.
That’s the standard finding for the biennial National Gang Intelligence Center report that summarizes the national threat of gangs and other crime groups. It applies to street gangs, as well as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) and Domestic Terrorist Extremists (DTEs).
Military-trained gang members (MTGM) include street gang, prison gang, OMG, or DTE group member per the applicable jurisdiction’s definition, with military training or experience, as perceived by a reasonable, typical, police officer. MTGMs display indicators that they received military training either directly or indirectly. Indicators of military training include the use of military tactics, weapons, explosives, or equipment to conduct gang activity, and the use of distinctive military skills, particularly if gang members are trained in weapons, tactics, and planning, and then pass the instruction on to other gang members. Military tactics include the techniques and strategies taught in a variety of military occupational specialties, ranging from tactical assault to organizational leadership strategies.
The FBI has reported military-trained gang members in all branches of the military since 2005. Street gang, OMG, and DTE members who have transitioned from the military back to the civilian community are the biggest threat, and the only issue that can be addressed without assistance coming from the military. Estimates of the number of MTGMs run from between 20,000 and 200,000, or between one and ten percent of the gang members in the country.