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Gang-related violence and its connection to illegal drug sales
A particular social problem that can poison a community on a deep and all-encompassing level is gang-related violence. Although forming social groups within general populations is a natural occurrence, gang affiliations extend this exclusive form of membership to destructive degrees. One of the most notable extensions of the city of Long Beach’s criminal collective stretches into the industry of illegal drug trade. The implications of this relationship are extremely harmful for the area’s residents.
After analyzing data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released results of the top five cities with the highest amount of homicides from gang activity, which included Long Beach along with other Californian cities like Los Angeles and Oakland. Specific findings revealed that approximately 69 percent of homicide victims between the ages of 15 and 24 in Long Beach were a result of gang violence and 5 percent of all homicides were associated with drug trade and use. Furthermore, research collected by the Long Beach Development Services in their latest project against gang reduction, intervention and prevention found that as a whole, adults in California were most commonly arrested for drug abuse violations in 2005.
Unfortunately, the connection between these two trends has not shown any signs of improvement. Released statements from California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell in 2014 brought to light an underlying, united front between California prison gangs and Mexican drug organizations. In addition to increasing the amount of drug trafficking into the state, with Long Beach as an identified hub, McDonnell expressed that the partnership makes both parties more resilient.
Gradual steps in the right direction
Despite this ongoing, statewide issue, some needed progress is taking place within the city’s limits. First of all, there was the major success of a 2013 sting operation that resulted in the arrest of 16 members of Long Beach’s largest gang, the Longos, who were also alleged key contacts with the Mexican Mafia. Similar positive news includes a new CalGRIP grant that was recently given to and accepted by the Long Beach City Council. Named “My Sister’s Keeper,” the $1.5 million initiative has the important goal of preventing gang initiation and victimization, especially among women between 10 and 24 years old with vulnerable circumstances.
Also, local community members have combined efforts against gang hostilities in response to recent threats against African American and Asian communities and 18 shootings in June alone that were classified as targeted crimes. Religious officials, law enforcement and the general public of Long Beach convened and discussed possible solutions to protect its people. Cmdr. Robert Luman, a local leader of gang and crime investigations, declared at the event, “If we continue to proliferate [love], we won’t have the violence… We try really hard to make sure we keep people safe. We need you as the community to be our eyes and ears,” according to a report from the Long Beach Press Telegram.
If you or a loved one is involved with life-threatening gang activity or substance use, contact the Long Beach Drug Treatment Rehab Center online or call 562- 846-1995 for supportive resources in your area.