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October 17, 2010

Feds pursuing death penalty for violent gang members

As detailed in this new NPR story, which is headlined "Death To Gang Members: The Feds' New Tactic," the US Justice Department has started to try a new approach to taking on violent gangs:

Alejandro Enrique Ramirez Umana has an unfortunate claim on history. He is the first member of the MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang to be sentenced to death under the federal system of capital punishment, according to the Justice Department.

Prosecutors and FBI officials say the Umana investigation, which took them from North Carolina to California to El Salvador, is a model for how federal authorities will attack a growing gang threat that is leaching into smaller cities across America's heartland.

Umana is only 25. But over the course of his relatively short life, he allegedly killed five people in his role as a traveling evangelist for the MS-13 gang....

"You know, here's a guy who probably, if the normal state prosecution had proceeded, he probably would have been locked up for a significant period of time if not the rest of his life," says John Bryson, who defended Umana.

But then the federal authorities entered the picture, taking over the state case and finding three other murders Umana allegedly committed.

Federal authorities have turned the investigation into a model for their strategy: to build bigger national prosecutions of gangs, to work with investigators across the U.S. and Central America, and to sometimes ask a jury to vote for capital punishment....

The FBI says international street gangs like MS-13 are moving into heartland cities that may not have much experience prosecuting them, which makes federal help in investigating all the more important.

"As you get across the country and realize that places like Charlotte and Nashville and Greenbelt, Md., have the same budding gang problems that larger cities have had, you realize there's a need to team up and share the sort of experience that we're gathering here in Washington with folks that might benefit from it on the road," says Jim Trusty, who leads the Justice Department's gang unit....

According to Lanny Breuer, who leads the Justice Department's criminal division, an expert in capital punishment is also on the newly merged team. "There will be cases with respect to gangs at times where we will seek that ultimate punishment, where the facts and the crime are so egregious and deserving [of] it," Breuer says.

October 17, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Permalink


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If any of these gang members were to move into any lawyer neighborhood, they would soon learn about the American justice system. The death penalty would not take years to develop. The police would arrive, blasting, and everyone would be dead, at the scene. No excessive force litigation in the lawyer residential neighborhood. These have lower crime rates than Switzerland or Japan, due to the swiftness and certainty of justice, with zero tolerance for any violent crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 17, 2010 2:33:24 PM

Good morning heartland cities. I am from the federal government and I am here to help you.

signed "cognitive dissonance"

Posted by: KRG def attny | Oct 18, 2010 12:50:05 PM

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Posted by: timberland boots uk | Oct 20, 2010 4:33:09 AM

KRG --

DOJ most often offers help to "heartland" states and cities in response to THEIR request. See, e.g., United States v. Olvis, 97 F.3d 739 (4th Cir. 1996). Some of us think it's better for the feds to help the states instead of sue them (when they try to do what the feds fail to do).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 20, 2010 9:03:55 AM

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