Montgomery Co. ramps up efforts to fight MS-13, other gangs

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy is flanked by members of the county council and police Chief Tom Manger on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County is stepping up its battle against MS-13 and other gangs that are blamed for a rising homicide rate in the county.

Police and prosecutors are beefing up their ranks to counter the gangs; the public school system will pitch in with information sharing and more gang prevention efforts.

“Additional detectives are going to be assigned to the neighborhoods, to the communities where the gang violence is occurring, where gang members typically operate,” Montgomery County police Chief Tom Manger said Tuesday, adding that efforts will focus on neighborhoods in Germantown, Gaithersburg and Silver Spring.

Members of the county council said it was not a difficult decision to come up with more funding to attack the problem of gangs in the county. “I am committed to doing whatever it takes to put an end to MS-13 in our county, whatever it takes. And I believe our entire county council shares that view,” said council President Roger Berliner.

While more detectives will surveil neighborhoods thought to be rampant with gangs, Manger said efforts will also be increased behind the scenes. The police department’s gang unit will add analysts to review information with the goal of advancing criminal investigations.

The gang division in the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office is getting more personnel with an eye toward going after gang leaders.

“This centralized unit will target leadership structures [of gangs] in Montgomery Country through proactive investigation techniques, including extensive grand jury investigations, monitoring of social media and the use of wiretaps,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

McCarthy said the number of gang homicides in the county went from 0 in 2011 to as many as 18 in the past two years.

Additionally, police have renewed their memorandum of understanding with the county public school system governing the work of school resource officers. The school officers will heighten their gang awareness activities with an eye toward sharing information with police.

The schools are also promising to increase outreach and prevention programs to reach students who may be targeted for gang membership.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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