America's long history of spawning criminal gangs that leads up to the present day usually begins with one immigrating ethnic group followed by another to rival the first. Academic social scientists and social engineers tell us these criminal arrivals are fleeing racial bigotry and social exclusion. As a microcosm, they often link this with "at-risk" children who become bullies or the victims of bullies in grammar school.

In addition to the above criteria, we must recognize the strong gang catalyst in America of drugs. These ethnic immigrant groups, whether by social pressure or de facto circumstances, settled in the same urban ghettos and barrios.

In these enclaves, the use and abuse of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and, more recently, khat are culturally accepted. Often the drug use was associated with the culture of the ethnic group it victimized. The Irish and Native American abuse of alcohol, Central and South American abuse of cocaine, Asian and African abuse of opiates, and white neo-Nazi abuse of methamphetamines are all examples of this self identification with illicit drugs.

It is this use of illicit drugs that first seduces young men into the criminal underworld and later makes the gangs the principal purveyors of this genocidal poison. Profits derived from this drug trafficking finances and arms these gangs for wars with rivals, and it connects them with international drug trafficking organizations.

The illegal use of liquor during prohibition propelled Al Capone and his gang to control Chicago and to corrupt the Second City government to the extent that one might argue it really never recovered. The supposedly "harmless" gateway drug of marijuana fueled the growth and proliferation of Pachuco gangs in the Southwest in the 1940s. In the gang slang language of Calo, another name for Pachuco is "Marijuano."

In 1970s Florida, cocaine amped up and supercharged Cuban and other Latino gangs. In the 1980s, the crack cocaine epidemic of Los Angeles franchised the spread of African American Crip and Blood gangs across the country. Later, heroin and Mexican meth trafficking turned some of these Latino gangs into transitional super gangs and established the prison gangs at the top of the food chain.

International drug trafficking cartels now threaten the stability of our neighbors in Central and South America and have caused the mass illegal immigration across our southern border and the unprecedented border violence we see daily reported in the media. One of the most violent, Mexican Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, built his organization of the sales of Mexican marijuana to the U.S.

Despite years of drug-abuse prevention programs, America's unquenchable appetite for illegal drugs has not decreased. Each year, America's addictions grow. Gang traffickers have recently been marketing the new products of "cheese" (heroin and Tylenol PM) and "strawberry meth" (strawberry flavored and colored methamphetamine) to hook even younger grammar school kids.

Billions of dollars in drug profits go to these criminal gangs each year. Like foolish spoiled children, Americans continue to feed the growing dragon unaware that this monster will someday consume us all. It threatens to destroy civilization as we know it.

Some of these foolish children have reasoned that legalization of these destructive drugs will solve the criminal gang problem. I've heard this kind of crazy talk even from law enforcement officers and administrators. However, I must remind you that the abolition of Prohibition did not end the criminal gangs of the 1920s and 1930s. Rather, these criminal gangs became more sophisticated and entrenched in American culture and legitimate businesses.

Their criminal distribution of beer evolved into complex systems to traffic meth, heroin and cocaine. These systems brought unimaginable profits to organized crime groups facilitating even more public corruption of our politicians, banks, unions and legitimate businesses. Decriminalization has not worked in Europe or anywhere else it has been tried. Instead, decriminalization has spawned more corruption, criminal gangs and organized crime groups.

Among the most foolish "children" are California's politicians who have legalized "medical" marijuana. This is their first step in the general decriminalization of most drugs. Already it is estimated that one-third of the income of several Northern California counties are derived from the trafficking in marijuana. It's easy to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana for almost any reason in California. Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries have sprung up in cities such as Los Angeles. Is there really any great medical need for all this pot? Of course not.

As this proliferation of medical marijuana shops is registered and regulated, the control of these shops will be in contention. Criminal groups will attempt to wrestle control away from independent shops. In the same way they infiltrated legalized gambling casinos, organized crime groups and criminal gangs will infiltrate and corrupt these shops.

Drugs and gangs go together like peanut butter and jam. Every joint smoked; every rock of crack bought; every line of coke or speed snorted; and every shot of smack feeds and fuels criminal gangs. Beside the cost in human lives ruined by addiction, guns, bullets and grenades are bought with this drug money. Gangs could not kill or maim kids without the weapons bought with drug profits from what America euphemistically calls "recreational drugs."

America, do you want to stop criminal gang violence? Then stop feeding the dragon. Stop drug decriminalization and tolerance. Stop getting high.


Richard Valdemar
Richard Valdemar

Sergeant (Ret.)

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

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Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

View Bio