Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Saw The Sign, Part 1


This only happens on the other side of the border, doesn't it?

Well, maybe not...

From Gangs in the Military, May 13, 2010, by Norma Yuriar:

Tulare County, Calif. (KMPH News) — Honor, respect and duty to country – three reasons why many valley soldiers are proud to serve, but some recruits are using war tactics they learn in the combat zone on their enemies here in the central valley. One local soldier speaks to KMPH News about his experience and the day he came face to face with a rival gang member in military base in Germany.

"My rank is Staff Sergeant, active Army — Walter Huerta," before Staff Sgt. Huerta was representing red, white and blue he was claiming, a different shade — the color of a notorious gang in Tulare County.

"My teenage life was basically all gang banging."

The 26–year old grew up in Orosi and spent most of his teenage years on probation, expelled from school for fighting, busted for selling drugs and left his mark all over town as a member of the Norteno Criminal Street Gang.

"It finally came down to the point where – at the time my girlfriend was pregnant – and I ended up over–dosing on Meth. I was rushed to the hospital; it was a wake up call. It took a near death experience for me to make a grown–up decision to join the military and get out of here and so that's what I did," Huerta said.

For the first time in 17–years, Huerta says he felt like he was heading on the right path.

"When I finally finished basic training, I got to my unit in Germany," but even overseas, his former life was staring right back.

"I get there and he looks at me up and down and he tells me, where are you from?"

The young soldier (seventeen at the time) was placed in the same platoon as a rival gang member.

"He told me – hey, I don't like you. I said you can like me or not, but I'm going to be with you for the next three years of our life," Huerta said. "The next thing I know is we are outside and we are fighting, two American soldiers in Germany and we fighting each other."

Although, Huerta was ready to make changes for the better – others gang members were not. Like in the case of 19–year old Andres Raya, an active–duty Marine and suspected gang member. Investigators say Raya used "military–style shooting" to kill a police officer near Modesto in 2005.

Sgt. Howard Stevenson, a 23–year veteran of the Ceres Police Department didn't have a chance.

"In this case, this guy was a killer hiding in a United States Marine Corps Uniform," Retired Ceres Police Officer Sam Ryno said.

Raya was cornered and killed in a firefight with officers. Because of this incident – five years ago — law enforcement agencies across the valley are training their officers to respond to a new kind of threat; gangster with military expertise.

Gangsters with military expertise... isn't that what Mexico is dealing with?

Here's a vid that addresses the incident described above:


An article from the Chicago Sun-Times was posted at Are gang members getting military training?

July 19, 2010
Chicago cop who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has seen a rise in US gang graffiti in the Middle East
by Frank Main

CHICAGO — Being in a street gang is now forbidden for members of the U.S. armed forces. But you might not guess that if you were to visit U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to soldiers who have recently served there.

Jeffrey Stoleson, a Wisconsin corrections official, returned from Iraq in January with photos of gang graffiti on armored vehicles, latrines and buildings. Stoleson, a sergeant with a National Guard unit, was there for nine months to help the Army set up a prison facility outside Baghdad.

"I saw Maniac Latin Disciples graffiti out of Chicago," Stoleson said, adding that there was a lot of graffiti for Texas and California gangs, as well as Mexican drug cartels.

So, while so many of our military personnel are honorably serving their country, there is definitely an element that is taking gang activity into the military, and military training to the streets.

Mexico is moving down the path of civil war, as the national government cannot effectively exercise control over some parts of the country due to the armed resistance by drug cartels.

Part of the reason is that the drug cartels have been recruiting personnel with military experience and training from the Mexican Army.

In the US, some border areas are being lost to incursions by drug-trafficking cartels, and the US is losing de facto control over these places.

When a national government loses control of its territory, it is the job of the military to regain that control.

But, if some members of the military owe their allegiance not to their country, but to a criminal gang that is trying to take over some turf, then does that not limit the effectiveness of the military to regain control over national territory?

From the 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment:

Gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of the distinctive military skills that they possess and their willingness to teach these skills to fellow gang members.

More than that, when facing foreign and domestic enemies on US soil, unit cohesion might be only the first casualty. If our military is called upon to defend US territory against foreign drug cartels and against the allies of those cartels, domestic street gangs, then... who's got the backs of our military?

(Of course, the good news is that it does not look like anyone in Washington is serious about defending US territory against a foreign narcotrafficker invasion, so maybe the question will never come up.)

And, as the US loses control over its territory, and as control over the US military begins to erode, could this not technically be the beginnings of a new American Civil War?

So, the question arises:

But where do you belong?

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