U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke on gang violence in North Carolina and around the country on Thursday, August 17, when he appeared at the annual “Gangs Across Carolinas” training symposium held this year in Winston-Salem.
With his tough-on-crime approach, Sessions started his speech by saying, “This is America. We will not be held hostage in our homes and our communities by gangsters.”
Sessions went on to discuss MS-13, a violent street gang that has spread across the country. He also addressed problems with drug overdoses and immigration.
The attorney general said that according to the FBI’s most recent gang report, roughly half of all gang investigators said gang membership and activity is on the rise. On top of that, about one third of jurisdictions reported an increase in threats to law enforcement.
Sessions added that the national murder rate surged by approximately 11% from 2014 to 2015, the largest annual increase since 1968.
For the first six months of 2016 (the latest information available), the murder rate increased 5.2% from the same prior-year period.
More broadly, the homicide rate in 27 of the nation’s 35 largest cities are also up.
“I’m afraid this is a trend, the starting of a trend that we do not want to see happen,” Sessions added.
Sessions went on to tie gang activity with the country’s opioid epidemic, saying nearly 60,000 Americans died in 2016 due to an overdose. That’s up 20%, or around 10,000 from 50,000 the previous year. This is the highest death toll and fastest increase in the death toll due to drugs in American history.
Addressing crime in North Carolina, Sessions said annual overdose deaths in the state have tripled since 1999.
“Gangs are more effective than other criminals because they work together,” he said.
Sessions told the group that President Trump has issued three executive orders since Sessions took office as attorney general, to support state and local law enforcement, reduce crime, and dismantle transnational crime organizations.
“We must keep after them, we cannot let them recover from these attacks,” Sessions said.
Of criminals who are in the U.S. illegally, Sessions said the “law says they should be deported and that’s what we intend to do.”
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Winston-Salem: ‘I’m afraid U.S. murder rate increase is a trend’,” Winston-Salem Journal, August 17, 2017.