armed robbery, extortion, people smuggling and arms and drug trafficking. Ethnic gangshave a need for social interaction and have developed in communities as widely varied asimmigrants from Albania, Russia, China, Serbia, Nigeria, South Africa, Ireland, Iran,Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and, more recently, Somalia.
Somali Gangs in the United States
There is little statistical data on the number and size of Somali youth gangs in theUnited States, although the number of gangs and their membership appears still to besmall. Most of the attention has been on the rise of Somali gangs in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area, which also has the largest Somali population in the United States. Following aseries of robberies in 2005 by Somali teenagers, the Department of Civil Rights of thecity of Minneapolis commissioned a report on Somali youth issues. Somali communityorganizer Shukri Adan was the principal author of the report, which appeared early in2007. She identified three Somali gangs operating at that time: Rough Tough Somalis,the Hot Boyz Gang and the Somali Mafia.A gang strike force in the Minneapolis metropolitan area documented in 2006only 52 Somalis connected to a gang. This constituted less than 1 percent of the totalgang population in the state of Minnesota. However, on the Eid holiday in 2006following the holy month of Ramadan, authorities had to shut down the Mall of Americadue to Somali gang fights with a non-Somali gang. Somali criminal gangs consisted of asmall number of loosely connected members who adopted the gang culture, includingsigns and symbols to show their affiliation. Unlike common gang culture, however, thefirst Somali gangs tended not to have a particular leader and no established hierarchy,although older members were treated with more respect than younger ones. The reportconcluded that the refugee experience was partially responsible for the rise of gangs.Fractured family structures and post traumatic stress disorder followed many youngSomalis from refugee camps to Minnesota.Gang-related activities included robbery, assault, carrying and using illegalweapons and use of drugs. One Somali parent interviewed for the report complained that parents need to pay more attention. Too many parents do not support their teens,emphasizing that boys in particular receive little guidance and support. They needdiscipline and rules to follow. Another Somali commented that these boys did not growup in Somalia like their parents; they are confused. There is culture shock. Most of themare not doing well in school. Their parents have not adapted well and it will be manyyears before they adapt to American society.With the passage of time, the gang problem has worsened in the Twin Cities area.By mid-2009, 7 Somali men, including a promising college student serving as a youthvolunteer, had been killed by fellow Somalis during a 10-month period. All of the deathswere apparently the result of gang activity. By this time, Shukri Adan estimated that between 400 and 500 Somalis were active in gangs in the metropolitan area. TheMinneapolis Police Department reported that Somali gangs had also grown more active.The Somali gang situation in the Twin Cities became a major national news storyin November 2010 when U.S. authorities arrested 29 individuals for their allegedinvolvement in recruiting and forcing into prostitution under age Somali and African-American girls. The 29 persons are reportedly connected to 3 gangs in the Twin Cities2