08/08/05 — N.C. gangs among nation’s biggest?

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N.C. gangs among nation’s biggest?

The roundup of members of dangerous gangs in metropolitan areas of our state perhaps should not have been surprising. But the fact that cities in our state rank among the highest in the nation in gangs made up of illegal immigrants is a cause of great concern.

A nationwide crackdown has been underway in recent weeks.
Seventy-seven suspected gang members were taken in custody in the Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte areas.

In the Boston area, 61 were arrested. Authorities in New York reported jailing 41 and in Los Angeles, 23 were apprehended.

Among crimes attributed to the gangs - largely Hispanic - were murder, rape, assault, burglary, drug violations and possession of illicit weapons.

Those arrested in a nationwide crackdown by immigration authorities and state and local law enforcement officers were said to have been affiliated with such notorious gangs as VDM (Very Dangerous Mexicans,) MS-13, Brown Pride Aztecs, Surenos-13, Crazy Dudes and others.

Many of the suspected gang members were taken in custody in apparently coordinated late-night raids by state and local authorities and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Local law enforcement officers focusing on gang activity were said to have been keys to the crackdown.

Predictably, there have been immediate expressions of concern over “profiling” immigrants.

A Raleigh lawyer, Carol Brooke with the Immigrants Legal Assistance Project, complained that “immigrants might be treated differently than other people.”
She suggested that some worried that Latinos could be unfairly targeted and hesitate to contact local police in the future for fear of deportation.

A Raleigh News & Observer story quoted her as saying: “This type of cooperation (between police and immigration agents) can erode trust.”
When an area is known to have one of the country’s highest concentrations of dangerous gang members made up largely of Latin American origin - and illegal immigrants at that - some profiling is a crucial facet of protecting the public safety.

And it is in the best interests of the safety and well-being our fine, hardworking and law-abiding immigrants to support that effort.

Published in Editorials on August 8, 2005 11:57 AM