Jan 17, 2007

Public Enemy Number 1: California's Growing Racist Gang

Nearly 300 police officers from more than two dozen federal and local law enforcement agencies fanned out across Southern California on December 14, 2006, to execute a series of search and arrest warrants at some 75 different locations. The extensive sweep resulted in the arrest of 67 alleged members of the large and violent white supremacist gang known as Public Enemy Number 1 (PENI).
The raids capped a 10-month long investigation into PENI led by the Anaheim Police Department that had already resulted in a number of PENI-related arrests in the week before the mid-December raids. Authorities took action after learning in November of an alleged PENI "hit list" that contained the names of an
Orange County
prosecutor and five police officers in several different departments. The suspects were arrested on a variety of charges, including conspiracy to commit murder, possession of illegal weapons and narcotics, forgery, probation violations and identity theft.

Across California, authorities struggle to deal with problems caused by PENI. An unusual hybrid of a racist skinhead gang, a street gang, and a prison gang, PENI has grown considerably in California, where it originated, and has even spread to nearby states.
law enforcement and prison officials are increasingly faced with a wide range of problems caused by the organization, ranging from the illegal methamphetamine trade to white collar crime that includes identity theft and counterfeiting. In addition, PENI members have been convicted for violent crimes, including assaults, attempted murder and murder.
The group has also raised its profile in the
prison system, where incarcerated members attempt to gain more recruits and influence. PENI's increasing strength stems to a large degree from its ability to position itself as a white power criminal organization capable of operating both on the streets and in the prison yards as foot soldiers for older, more established white supremacist prison gangs, such as the Aryan Brotherhood.
In the past several years, Public Enemy Number 1 has grown considerably in size. As it has expanded, so too has the threat that it poses. Heavily involved in the drug trade, PENI members also have a strong history of violence, both in the prisons and on the streets. Its mercenary and criminal nature, coupled with a white supremacist ideology and a subculture of violence, makes it a triple threat, both to law enforcement and to the public at large. Even people far removed from the worlds of narcotics and gangs may become victim to the PENI through white collar crimes ranging from fraud to counterfeiting to identity theft.
PENI is currently strongest in
California, where it has caused many problems in recent years. However, if its growth is not stopped, it is likely to become increasingly problematic in other states as well—the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest being the most likely areas of PENI expansion. PENI may not be the nation's "number one public enemy," but they have more than proven themselves a violent, hateful, and dangerous threat—one that needs to be contained.

Perhaps this issue needs to be adressed rather than worrying about the issues in the Middle East - but then these gangs probably don't have oil-rights now do they?

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