The Gang & Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) is a statewide task force managed and led by AZDPS. One of its main objectives is to deter criminal gang activity through the enforcement of state laws. The task force also aims to deter criminal gang activity through investigations, arrest and prosecution, the dismantling of gang-related criminal enterprises, the deterrence of border-related crimes, and the disruption and dismantling of human smuggling organizations. The task force also collects, analyzes and disseminates gang and illegal immigration intelligence and provides anti-gang awareness training to communities and schools. During FY2016, GIITEM was comprised of 30 different police agencies and was staffed by nearly 100 law enforcement officers across the state.
GIITEM also manages the Detention Liaison Officer (DLO) Program. The DLO Program is an intelligence component and is comprised of detention officers from various sheriffs and corrections departments. DLOs serve as intelligence resources for local, county and state law enforcement by reporting intelligence information regarding criminal street gangs, security-threat groups and human-smuggling operations.
During FY2016, GIITEM personnel arrested 369 gang members statewide which represents more than an 85 percent increase from the number of gang members arrested by the task force in FY2015. During FY2016, GIITEM personnel also contacted 3,446 documented gang members across the state which represents a 17 percent increase from the number of gang members contacted by GIITEM in FY2015.
During FY2016, members of GIITEM played a significant role in several gang-related investigations. One of those investigations involved gang-related homicides. The investigation, which spanned 18 months and involved the FBI, included numerous search warrants, interviews, and vital AZDPS investigative resources.
GIITEM detectives spearheaded body recovery search efforts to locate and recover the buried human remains of two identified victims, which was critical to solving two homicide investigations.
A third person’s remains were also recovered, however, that victim remains unidentified at this time. Testimonies by GIITEM detectives at a Federal Grand Jury led the jury to bring back a true bill with 19 different counts for five suspects including homicide, rape, and aggravated assault.
Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) statutes were also applied to the case based upon the gang’s criminal organizational ties. Suspects in this investigation were affiliated with the Red Skin Kings gang which is a tribal gang operating on the reservations in northern Arizona and New Mexico. At this time, all suspects associated with the gang investigation that have been indicted are in federal custody.
The Gang Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GITEM) concept was conceived in late 1992 by law enforcement agencies in the metropolitan Phoenix area to maximize law enforcement's effects on gangs. The mutually supportive program was designed to cripple the criminal activity of gangs as well as to reduce the impact on law enforcement agencies that such concentrated enforcement produces. This effort was a response to the need for all law enforcement to take a strong and coordinated stance against the epidemic of gang and street violence.
During the first year of operation, GITEM implemented two separate regions or deployment centers (in Phoenix and Tucson) from which officers could be deployed to support law enforcement agencies statewide. GITEM consisted of employees from 22 different agencies.
In 1996, GITEM established two undercover squads, the first in the nation, specifically to infiltrate and dismantle gangs as criminal enterprises. The squads were based out of Phoenix and Tucson but conducted operations in every area of the state.
In 2003, GITEM fell victim to changing priorities and budget shortfalls and went through a significant downsizing process to meet budgetary restraints.
In 2006, Arizona lawmakers took an aggressive stance on stopping gang and illegal immigration-related crimes and revitalized the old GITEM and created the new GIITEM, the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission. In addition, those same lawmakers provided special funding to the task force and added the responsibilities of deterring border-related crimes and combating the rising incidents of human smuggling and illegal immigration.
GIITEM’s unique approach brings together law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies from municipal, county, state, federal and tribal jurisdictions in a coordinated, intelligence-driven approach to deal with gangs and violent human smuggling organizations on a large scale. Traditionally, Arizona agencies addressed the gang and illegal immigration problem individually rather than collectively. This separate approach resulted in displacement rather than focused and directed gang and illegal immigration enforcement efforts and identification. The primary benefit of the GIITEM task force is the combined resolution of the involved agencies and citizens, who ultimately are the recipients of the project’s services, to cripple gangs and human smuggling organizations in the state rather than displacing these problems into adjoining jurisdictions.
GIITEM is one of only a few true multi-agency statewide gang and illegal immigration task force programs in the country. GIITEM’s anti-gang and illegal immigration efforts are directed into four areas: enforcement, investigation, intelligence gathering and training. GIITEM’s success can be contributed to its ability to confront gang and illegal immigration problems statewide without regard to the normal jurisdictional issues that affect municipal and county law enforcement agencies.
Intelligence-led policing efforts require adequate analytical and research personnel. In October 2007, the Gang Enforcement Bureau's Intelligence Support District was established and consists of the Analysis Unit and the Detention Liaison Officer program.
The Analysis Units collect, research, analyze, report and disseminate gang and immigration intelligence in support of the task force's mission, as well as the enforcement efforts of other agencies.
The Detention Liaison Officer Program was established to leverage the intelligence collection abilities of detention officers in county jails, juvenile detention facilities and state and private prisons.
The mission of the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) is to:
- Deter criminal gang activity through investigations, arrest and prosecution.
- Dismantle gang-related criminal enterprises.
- Deter border-related crimes.
- Disrupt human smuggling organizations.
- Collect, analyze and disseminate gang and illegal immigration intelligence.
- Provide anti-gang and illegal immigration awareness training to communities and schools.
The Gang Enforcement Bureau's Training Unit provides GIITEM personnel and the criminal justice community with up-to-date training relating to gangs and illegal immigration trends, enforcement and intelligence-led policing. In addition, education presentations to schools, churches, public events, non-profit agencies, governmental and civic organizations.