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10/31/2005 Archived Entry: "Gangs use deportation to advantage"

Interesting news item: "In the last 12 years, U.S. immigration authorities have logged more than 50,000 deportations of immigrants with criminal records to Central America, including untold numbers of gang members like Cruz-Mendoza. But a deportation policy aimed in part at breaking up a Los Angeles street gang has backfired and helped spread it across Central America and back into other parts of the United States. Newly organized cells in El Salvador have returned to establish strongholds in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities. Prisons in El Salvador have become nerve centers, authorities say, where deported leaders from Los Angeles communicate with gang cliques across the United States."

This is a great example of 'unintended consequences.' Indeed, in this case, the consequence is the exact opposite of what was intended and may be very difficult for officials to counter or control.

But I have a separate question about the rise of gangs -- especially Hispanic and Asian ones -- in American cities over the last few decades....[Please click "more" to continue]

A theory I've heard and find somewhat plausible is that their rise was facilitated by the extreme weakening of the Mafia during the Kennedy years, especially the assault by Robert Kennedy when he was Attorney General. This is said to have left a vacuum to be filled in the most profitable area of crime...drug dealing. If the Mafia had remained intact, then (according to the theory) any gang trying to go into business in competition would have run up against violent resistance -- literally -- and an already established network that would need to be ousted. Frankly, if this is true, then I'm rather sorry that the Mafia-busting took place. As brutal and bad as that organization was, it also ran by certain well=established rules and customs that are attractive when held up against the newer gangs. For example, they didn't shoot 'civilians' in drive-bys. It wasn't because the Mafia were more benevolent. It was probably due to several other factors. 1) they didn't like to draw attention to themselves. 2) they probably had better relationships with the police (bribes, pay-offsetc.) who would be embarrassed by a stack of dead bodies. 3) they didn't want to invite the killing of 'civilians' in their own families and circle of friends.

Of course, the ideal situation would have been to bust the Mafia and eliminate the laws that made the Mafia's business profitable at the same moment. That is, to decriminalize drugs and other "vice". Then there would have been no vacuum to have been profitably filled.

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