Gangs growing along East Coast

WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government says the gang problem in the United States is growing and that there are an estimated 1.4 million members in some 33,000 gangs.

A national gang threat assessment for 2011 concludes that gangs are collaborating with transnational drug trafficking organizations to make more money and are expanding the range of their illicit activities, which include mortgage fraud and counterfeiting as well as trafficking in guns and drugs.

The report based on federal, state and local law enforcement data says gang membership is increasing most significantly in the Northeast and Southeast regions of the country and that many communities are experiencing an increase in ethnic-based gangs such as African, Asian and Caribbean gangs.

Charlotte is no stranger to gang activity. Two high-profile groups were federally prosecuted here, the Hidden Valley Kings and MS-13. A report last year from the Governor's Crime Commission said Mecklenburg had 160 gangs, there are nearly 900 statewide with more than 13,000 members.

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