Gangs in the Military: A Dangerous Combination for America's Law Enforcement.

December 14, 2011 By Sgt Lou Savelli, NYPD (retired)

Lou Savelli
Lou Savelli, former Detective Supervisor, NYPD Terrorist Interdiction Unit.

Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, Asian gangs, white supremacists, and even extremist groups have all infiltrated the military. And when they come home, they are armed and more dangerous than ever. Experts estimate that there are over 14,000 active gang members serving in America's armed forces today. They are given extensive tactical training, access to all types of weapons, experience in teamwork and squad leadership, and even taught how to improvise explosives and use camouflage. With all this knowledge in hand they return from active duty back to the streets and use their combat experience to commit heinous crimes. Now knowledgeable in command, they train their gangs at home in advanced tactics, weapons use, and teamwork. And they use these techniques to commit some of the most gruesome and senseless crimes in American history.

American law enforcement and the United States military always had an idea that gang members had infiltrated the ranks but it was not until US Army Sgt Jeff Stoleson, (pictured below) a Wisconsin Corrections Officer, who now just completed his second deployment to Iraq with a serious disability, documented over 400 gang-related graffiti pieces in 2006 during his first deployment. Sgt Stoleson, a personal friend of this author, opened the eyes of the entire law enforcement community and forcefully caused the US Military to acknowledge the problem. As a way to bring the realization of the danger posed by 'gangster soldiers', several related stories are exposed below:

Sergeant Jeff Stoleson
  1. Andres Raya - USMC, Norteno gang member. - When Andres Raya returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq, he was a decorated and battle-hardened soldier. But it didn't take him long to join up with his old street gang, the Nortenos. On January 9, 2005, Raya, high on cocaine, set out to prove his loyalty to his gang by killing as many police officers as possible in Ceres, CA. In a well-planned and well-executed mission, Raya drove to a local convenience store and reported a shooting to attract police. Then he waited. Over the next 3 hours, Raya used military sharpshooter and concealment tactics in a one man firefight that left one officer dead and three seriously wounded. Officers had to shoot Raya 18 times before he was finally brought down. The entire horrific ordeal was caught on the store's surveillance camera. When investigators searched his house, they found shocking videos of Raya flashing gang signs and doing drugs with known gang members.
  2. Jesse Quintanilla - USMC, Sureno gang member. - Marines are part of a brotherhood that is said to be deeper than their own family. So when one Marine kills another in cold blood, it shakes the Corps to the core. On March 5, 1996, Jesse Quintanilla, a seasoned Marine, entered the office of his Executive Officer, LtCol Daniel Kidd. He was intoxicated and brandishing a gun. As LtCol Kidd lunged for the door, Quintanilla exclaimed "Remember me, f****r?" and opened fire. Kidd was instantly killed and Quintanilla wounded another officer who tried to intervene. Quintanilla fled on foot and was only stopped after several Marines finally tackled him. In a subsequent interrogation, Quintanilla said he did it for his "brown brothers" and lifted up his shirt to reveal a large tattoo reading "Surenos", the name of his southern California gang. Quintanilla was convicted of murder and is now on death row Fort Leavenworth.
  3. Michael Smith - USMC, Maniac Latin disciples. - A Marine Reservist who served in Iraq, awaits trial for attempted murder in Aurora, IL, after a late night shooting that left three teens wounded. In July of 2006, Smith, a member of the Maniac Latin Disciples gang, along with an accomplice, shot the three teens then led police on a daring high speed chase before being captured. Police are still baffled as to the motive since the teens appear to have no gang ties and may not have even known Smith. He is also suspected in a drive-by shooting earlier that day that left a 25-year-old woman injured.
  4. James Ross Jr. - US Army, White supremacist. - James Ross Jr. seemed like the all-American soldier. He was deployed to Iraq during 2004 where he served as a military intelligence officer, a prestigious assignment for a young soldier. But when confiscated AK-47's began to turn up missing, the Army got suspicious. Ross was caught in the act of shipping disassembled AK's back to the US. When Military Police searched his house back in Fayetteville, NC, they found not only a huge stockpile of weapons and ammunition, but most disturbingly, piles of neo-Nazi and White Supremacist literature. Ross was immediately deported back to the US where he was given a bad conduct discharge. Amazingly, he was allowed to keep the weapons he had in his home and has since fled to Washington. Ross is now a leader in the Eastern Washington Skins, a neo-Nazi gang. His job is to recruit active soldiers to the gang.
  5. Juwan Johnson - US Army, Gangster Disciple. - After serving an 18 month tour in Iraq, Sgt Juwan Johnson was sent to Kaiserslautern, Germany to recoup before returning home. Johnson had seen heavy fighting in Iraq and had even been awarded a Purple Heart. But his battle wounds weren't what killed him. Johnson had fallen in with a vicious gang known as the Gangster Disciples. On July 3, 2005, Johnson was "jumped in" to the gang, an initiation practice where other gang members savagely beat the new recruit to test his courage. In Johnson's case, it turned deadly. The next morning, Johnson was discovered in his barracks, his back covered with deep bruises and welts with damage to his brain and heart. He could not be revived. Investigators immediately suspected eight gang associates of Johnson's but could not make a case until late in 2006. A Disciple soldier is currently awaiting trial in Germany for the murder.

Gangsters in the ranks of the US Military pose a serious safety and tactical concern for our nation's law enforcement officers, whether in the streets, in the jails and prisons or on the variety of modes of transportation. Every law enforcement officer must be aware of this threat and train accordingly. Gangster soldiers are coming back to the ranks of their gangs with better tactics, combat experience and a new confidence to take on their number one enemy, YOU!