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WASHINGTON – The federal government says the gang problem in the United States is growing and that there are an estimated 1.4 million members in some 33,000 gangs.

A national gang threat assessment for 2011 concludes that gangs — driven by the profit motive — are collaborating with transnational drug trafficking organizations to make more money and are expanding the range of their illicit activities, which include mortgage fraud and counterfeiting as well as trafficking in guns and drugs.

The report based on federal, state and local law enforcement data says gang membership is increasing most significantly in the Northeast and Southeast regions of the country and that many communities are experiencing an increase in ethnic-based gangs such as African, Asian and Caribbean gangs.

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