Gangs in the Military - Part 1

By: Thelma Gutierrez - CNN
By: Thelma Gutierrez - CNN

Gangs in the U.S. military are happening more and more. Members of white, black and Latino street gangs are signing up to serve in the armed forces, and Thelma Gutierrez reports it's so serious that the FBI calls it a national security threat.

Airman First Class Miguel Robinson, aka "Scooby," Los Angeles Crip; Marine Pfc. Tomas James Leyden, aka "Irish," Hammerskin White Supremacist; and Lance Corp Andreas Reya, Norteno Gang, are all gangsters in uniform who've infiltrated every branch of the U.S. military and marked their territory on base, in barracks and even overseas in Iraq.

At the NCO Club at Ft. Bragg, a sea of hands openly flash gang signs - the rank-and-file so brazen and their affiliation is often no secret at all.

"I started recruiting active duty personnel to join the white supremacy movement to eventually overthrow the U.S. government," said Leyden.

Leyden was an extremist, a recruiter for a white supremacist, anti-government group, who joined the Marines

When asked why Leyden was in the Marines he said, "To gain knowledge. The military made me a better recruiter, organizer and propagandist."

Robinson is a crip. He joined the Air Force to get away from gang life, but that didn't last long.

"I was guilty of drug trafficking in the military, and
I was guilty of setting up a gang atmosphere," Robinson said.

Robinson and Leyden said the military trained them to become even more lethal.

"Give me 50 caliber rifle, I can take down a 747 tomorrow over any major city in the United States," Leyden said.

"Give me a gun now I shoot straight I'm not just spraying. I'm knocking things down," Robinson said.

No one knows exactly how many gang members are in the military, but by some estimates, gang members make up less than one percent of all military personnel. Hardly an epidemic, but enough to prompt this FBI report.

Gang members at military installations from Ft. Lewis, Washington to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina have been involved in drug distribution, robberies, assaults and murder, according to the 2007 internal FBI document. The report also found gang activity in the U.S. military as "increasing and poses a threat to law enforcement officials and national security."

This is an issue law enforcement is taking seriously. Al Valdez is a former detective. He trains police around the country on gangs in the military.

"It's not illegal to be a gang member in the military. It's a protected right. In fact the head of our command correctly states that. What happens is they bring the gangster mentality within the military," Valdez said.

"Come on, when these cats, these gang members come back from Iraq we're going to have some hell on these streets," Robinson said.

"A gang member with milt training he doesn't run, he stands his ground and goes after cop," Leyden said.


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