- Members of the Hells Angels, including an Army lieutenant
colonel from Illinois, have served the U.S. military in Iraq. Another Iraq
war veteran, a Marine who belongs to the Maniac Latin Disciples street
gang, is charged with shooting three teens in Aurora.
- They are examples of growing gang activity in the military,
which "poses a threat to law enforcement officials and national security,"
according to a new FBI report obtained by the Sun-Times.
- "The military enlistment of gang members could ultimately
lead to the worldwide expansion of U.S.-based gangs," the report warned.
- The report by the FBI's National Gang Intelligence Center
said gang members sneak into the military by failing to report criminal
convictions or using fake documents. Some have sealed juvenile records
unavailable to recruiters. And most of the recruiters are not properly
trained to recognize gang affiliation, the report said.
- "Military recruiters under pressure to meet recruiting
goals have engaged in criminal violations such as overly aggressive recruiting
tactics and document falsification," said the report.
- While gang members constitute a "fraction"
of the military, the extent of the problem is difficult to gauge because
the military is not required to provide the FBI with statistics on crime
at military posts. Still, the FBI has documented disturbing examples of
how gang members get into the military -- and the crimes they commit in
- In 2005, for instance, a Latin Kings member was allegedly
recruited into the Army at a Brooklyn, N.Y., courthouse while awaiting
trial for assaulting a New York police officer with a razor. He was reportedly
instructed by the recruiter to conceal his gang affiliation, the report
- Reportedly steal weapons
- Many members of the Illinois-based Outlaw Motorcycle
Gang and the Hells Angels have military experience and have been known
to recruit soldiers due to their explosives and firearms experience, the
report said. One of the most violent gangs -- the MS-13 -- is increasing
its presence on or near U.S. military installations, the FBI said.
- Some gang members use their military positions to steal
weapons and other equipment.
- Last year, an Army soldier who is a gang member identified
60 to 70 gang-affiliated military personnel in his unit allegedly involved
in the theft and sale of military weapons and supplies, the report said.
The soldier said many of them were sergeants in charge of ammunition and
grenade distribution and that commanders were aware of their actions.
- Training can be deadly
- And earlier this month, two Illinois National Guard soldiers
were charged with selling stolen body armor, night-vision goggles and other
military equipment to undercover federal agents. A third, unnamed soldier
may have intended to supply Chicago gangs with body armor he stole in Iraq,
according to a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI.
- Gang members in the military also are applying their
battle training to the streets when they return home, the FBI warned. One
Iraq veteran in California apparently relied on his Marine training in
a shootout that killed a police officer and wounded another.
- The Sun-Times began investigating gangs in the military
last year after obtaining photos of gang graffiti on military equipment
and buildings in Iraq. Some of the graffiti referred to Chicago-based gangs
such as the Black Disciples and Latin Kings.