By Penny Starr
(CNSNews.com) – The sheriff of Hennepin County, Minn., told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on Wednesday about the threat of Somali gangs in his jurisdiction.
I have been asked to testify today about the specific emergence of Somali gang-related issues we are having in my county,” Rich Stanek said in his prepared testimony.
Stanek represented the National Sheriffs’ Association at the hearing on “America’s Evolving Gang Threat.” He also serves on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inter-agency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group and is president of the Major County Sheriffs’ Association.
Stanek said Minnesota is a “designated U.S. Refugee Resettlement Area,” with a Somali population ranging from 80,000 to 125,000 in the state. As a result, Stanek said, while the African population in the U.S. as a whole is about four percent, 18 percent of the Minnesota population is African because of the large Somali presence.
Stanek said he wanted to “state for the record” that most Somalis are “law-abiding citizens” who contribute to the community, but those who have joined gangs are committing crimes across the state.
“Somali gangs are unique in that they are not necessarily based on the narcotics trade as are other traditional gangs,” Stanek said, adding that “turf” is also not a motivating factor in Somali gang criminal activities.