Thursday, February 08, 2007

The mayor of Los Angeles has called for international efforts to deal with gang crime, saying his city was ground zero for Latino gangs

BBC News:

Antonio Villaraigosa told the BBC that many gangs across North and Central America were started from his city.

Regional police chiefs are in LA to discuss fighting the gangs, blamed for a spree of murder, rape and robbery.

The three-day meeting will focus on improving co-operation and intelligence sharing to stop the gangs.

Mr Villaraigosa said there was a connection between poverty, low education levels, lack of job opportunities and gang membership.

These root issues needed to be addressed as part of a solution to gang violence in the United States and elsewhere, he said.

"Gang violence is a problem of international scope, and we must face it on a international scale," he said, quoted by AFP news agency.

"We must coordinate with our international counterparts in a smart and effective way."

In an interview for the BBC World Service Newshour programme, Mr Villaraigosa said that gang crime had risen in Los Angeles despite a drop in overall crime rates.

"This is a city that has a real problem," he said.

"And yet, this is the second-safest big city in America - violent crime is down five years running".

On Tuesday, the US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, announced the state department would fund a new transnational anti-gang unit for Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize.

Until now, the gangs have mostly been tackled on a country-by-country basis.

The heads of the national police forces of several countries where gangs are prevalent, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico are meeting officials from US drug enforcement agencies and the FBI.

Los Angeles names and targets city's worst 11 gangs

Police Put Spotlight on L.A. Gangs — But Might They Enjoy It?

Officials See a Spread in Activity of Gangs

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