The murder of El Salvadoran immigrant and MS-13 gang member Brenda Paz in rural Shenandoah Valley Virginia by MS-13 gang members led investigators to a web of connections across rural America. A New York Times article reveals that Hispanic gangs are being forced by an excess of competition in urban areas to expand out into rural America.
Gang activity has traditionally been a function of immigration and labor-migration patterns. Today, with those patterns changing -- with unskilled jobs shifting from cities to rural regions, with sprawl pushing suburbs and exurbs deeper into the countryside -- gangs are cropping up in unexpected places: tiny counties and quaint villages, farming communities and cookie-cutter developments, small towns and tourist resorts. In Toombs County, Ga., for instance, 10 Hispanic gangs roam an area marked by cotton, tobacco and onion fields, according to Art Villegas, who tracks gang activity there for the sheriff's office.
Many rural gang members, however, are not so much drawn to the opportunities of the countryside as they are pushed out of the city. In the crowded and carved-up inner cities, competition among gangs is fierce. One block that I recently visited in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington was being contested by four different groups. In big-city barrios, trespassing on another gang's turf can get you killed. But in the countryside, the territory is wide open. Gangs operate on a franchise model, and as with fast-food outlets, the closer you get to crowded city centers, the smaller the individual turf. (Think how many McDonald's restaurants there are every few blocks downtown.) In less-populated outlying areas, by contrast, a single gang can service an entire neighborhood, town or county. For an ambitious young gang member, it is easiest to move up the ranks by moving to the countryside.
Consider, too, the picture of a far-flung criminal network that emerges from the details disclosed in law-enforcement documents about Paz's murder. Jailhouse recordings of her ex-boyfriend (against whom she was expected to testify) include calls from the detention facility in Virginia where he was held, in which he said that she needed to be ''planted so hard, she would never get up.'' MS-13 members called her in Kansas City, Mo., where United States marshals from the Witness Protection Program had her stashed away in a Marriott hotel, and were presumably able to persuade her to leave the program voluntarily. The white S.U.V. that drove her to the site of her death in Virginia had license plates from Georgia.
There is a surplus of Hispanic gang members. They can't find enough criminal work being gang members in cities and so they are franchising their gang operations into the unexplored virgin territory of rural America.
As the article points out, FBI crime statistics show a spike in murders in smaller cities and rural areas while larger police forces are able to keep the lid on in urban areas. Think about it. Rural areas are going to cease to be safe havens from urban crime if current immigration trends cotinue.
We can't take in any more Hispanic immigrants and continue to naively hope that the problems they bring will remain confined to distant cities that we can avoid visiting. We have exceeded the number we can have and still keep their criminals and gangs isolated from the rest of us. Even our rural areas are now going to be ruined by high crime. Hasn't the problem gotten bad enough that it is time to close the border with Mexico and deport all the illegals? This is doable. We just have to get angry enough in sufficient numbers to demand our politicians crack down and put an end to the current huge influx of immigrants.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 August 15 11:37 AM Immigration Societal Decay|