Wednesday, December 29, 2004

It seems that the response to international terrorism is having some fallout on the streets. The New York City DA charged 19 members of the ST. JAMES BOYS GANG, a Mexican neighborhood in NYC, with terrorism for conducting what's normally been considered street gang business.

During a run-of-the-mill street beef, EDGAR MORALES, a homie that claimed SJB, wounded his target but also accidentally hit and killed a 10-year old innocent bystander, MELANIE MENDEZ. Instead of going with the usual charges, the DA decided to prosecute under the new terrorism laws and as a result MORALES is the first street gangster in NEW YORK STATE to be charged as a terrorist. He probably also qualifies as the first gangster in the country to be charged with terrorism. We've never heard of anyone else being similarly charged so this might turn into a milestone case.

MORALES has yet to go to trial, but if he were convicted under non-terror laws, he'd get a max of 25 to life. Under the tighter terror laws he's loooking at life without parole.

Civil libertarians are predictably up in arms about this because the terror laws were never intended to target street criminals. Just the big nasty guys that fly planes into buildings, shoot schoolkids and chop off women's heads. But once a prosecutor has a tool in the toolbox, you can bet the tool will be used. It was inevitable.

The same thing happened with the RICO statutes created in 1970. RICO was originally designed to take down the COSA NOSTRA. But once LE found that other criminal enterprises fit the description, RICO has been used against groups that didn't quite measure up to the power and organization of the LCN.

What this means to neighborhoods is that the next time a group of homies is caught in some anti-social act, even if it's conducting business that doesn't involve civilians, they might be looking at forever. In the eyes of the government, you're no longer a street soldado putting in the work. You're a terrorist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wally, where are you? You been gone for the past 8 days. There is too much happening out there. Wil. E Coyote