News Release from Senator John Carona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2008
Contact: Steven Polunsky
(512) 463-0067

SENATOR JOHN CARONA UNVEILS ANTI-GANG INITIATIVE

Dallas, Texas - Senator John Carona, Chairman of the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, today unveiled an anti-gang initiative accompanied by members of law enforcement and local leaders in anti-crime efforts.

"I have studied this subject for two years now, and without a doubt, the number one homeland security threat is from gangs," said Carona, who continued:

"Gangs, especially transnational gangs, pose an immediate and substantial threat to homeland security. They reach from the street corners of Dallas to the four corners of the globe. They create a thriving environment for crime, from vandalis m and petty theft to drug smuggling, human trafficking, and violence.

"Gang hallmarks range from vandalism and graffiti to the use of firearms in the commission of felonious assaults or homicides.

"Now they are using advanced technology and are allying with organized crime to increase profits and expand control, entering areas such as credit card fraud, illegal gaming, money laundering, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling, with violence being a defining characteristic.

"Yet, our approach to gangs really hasn't changed much since the days of Elliott Ness and tommy guns."

Senator Carona identified prepaid cell phones as the enabler of choice for gangs, and he noted "Prepaids are popular with criminals because they are cheap, accessible, untraceable, and discardable. They donít even have to bother blocking or disguising the phone number, which means if the crime involves a scam, your caller ID registers a regular number with a local area code, so your guard goes down."

"Today I am rolling out the first of many initiatives to fight gangs. The focus of this one is the prepaid cell phone. If my proposal becomes law:

  1. When you buy a prepaid cell phone, you must show your state ID. The retailer collects the information.

  2. You cannot buy more than three prepaid cell phones at a time.

  3. The manufacturer or service providers are responsible for keeping phone call records and making them accessible to law enforcement in a criminal investigation.

  4. Prepaid cell phones must pay their fair share for 911 service.

  5. There are criminal and civil penalties for noncompliance.

"This legislation will lead the nation in taking prepaid cell phones out of the criminal equation. Further, I will work with our colleagues in other states to adopt similar laws so our state borders do not become a getaway zone or a way to end-run the law."

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Contact: Steven Polunsky, (512) 463-0067, fax (512) 463-2840, steven.polunsky_sc@senate.state.tx.us

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