For Immediate Release
July 2nd, 2001
Contact: Tori Richards (714) 347-8405
Gang Homicides Drop 50 percent Over Past Two Years
EDITOR’S NOTE: A copy of the gang report is available from the receptionist in the 401 building. The District Attorney will be available for comment at 2 p.m.
SANTA ANA – The number of gang-related homicides have dropped 50 percent over the past two-year period; and the number of gangs and gang members have also declined, according to a yearly report released today by the District Attorney’s Office.
Violent crime and property crime attributed to gang members is at a five-year low which has resulted in fewer cases referred to the DA’s Office by police, fewer cases filed and fewer trials of gang members.
“I would love to see a day when we don’t even need to have a gang unit in the District Attorney’s Office,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “I’ve made the eradication of senseless gang violence the highest priority in my administration. While we’ve achieved phenomenal results, there is still much to be done. We will continue to look for new and innovative ways to fight crime.”
Rackauckas attributes the anti-gang success to three things:
- The Regional Gang Enforcement Team (RGET), which targets gang members who are mobile and have no turf. These criminals frequently engage in drug trafficking, money laundering and high-tech crimes.
- Tri-Agency Resource Gang Team (TARGET), which “targets” the violent leaders of gangs with a special team comprised of a prosecutor, police detective and probation officer.
- The DA’s Gang Unit, which is known throughout the state for using intricate and novel legal theories in its investigation, prosecution and conviction of gang members.
According to the report, gang members committed 16 murders in 2000; 26 in 1999 and 32 in 1998. Last year, there were 17,995 gang members and 367 gangs. In 1999, there were 19,521 gang members and 355 gangs and in 1998 the numbers were, respectively, 19,965 and 400. In two years there has been a 10 percent decrease in gang membership and an 8 percent decrease in the number of gangs.
This can be attributed partly to the aggressive prosecution efforts by the DA’s Office, which has put many of the most violent gang members in prison thanks to more aggressive laws, good police work and prosecution efforts. Prosecutors are now able to concentrate on some of the lesser members and use methods such as pursuing probation violations more frequently on lesser offenses in order to keep them in check.
“I’m especially proud of our efforts given the population explosion among our youth. The youth are the most active members in gangs and, unfortunately, the most common victims of gang violence,” Rackauckas said. “Despite a current youthful population, second only to the baby boomers of the 1960s, we’ve not just kept a lid on gang crime but decreased it as well.”