Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, asking the agencies to inform the committee on what steps – if any – are being taken to monitor and deter dangerous gang activity.
Grassley is pressing these agencies for answers as violent crime has spiked across the nation, with homicides soaring by nearly 35 percent in major cities over the past two years. In his letters, Grassley warns gang activity is a “danger to the American public,” given their use violence to intimidate, control and even recruit disaffected youth. In a 2020 report, the Bureau of Justice Statistics disclosed that nine percent of middle and high school students reported having a gang presence in their school.
“A critical part of winning the fight against gangs and gang-related violence is knowledge: knowing who we are fighting against, whether our procedures are effective, and what additional resources law enforcement needs. Unfortunately, the American public and Congress alike lack access to current gang-related data. The FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment stopped reporting estimated gang memberships after 2009. The National Gang Center (NGC) at DOJ stopped reporting the quantity and memberships of gangs in 2012,” Grassley wrote.
Grassley concludes the letters by requesting a briefing from relevant agencies to further discuss gang-related activity in U.S. cities, including what steps are being taken to track gang members, how the federal government is monitoring and adapting to shifting trends in gang-related activity and which sections of the criminal code could be improved to assist these agencies in prosecuting gang-related crimes.
Recently, Grassley led Judiciary Committee Republicans in demanding a full hearing on the alarming spike in violent crime across the United States. In August, Grassley pressed the Justice Department on its lack of updates from the Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), which was established under the previous administration to combat MS-13 – a violent street gang known for committing burglary, murder and rape.