The study had four objectives:
Objective 1: Determine how the efforts that received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding were part of the regional collaborative efforts already in place to target cross-border drug-related violence.
Objective 2: Document the perceived challenges and benefits to multi-jurisdictional task force (MJTF) participation and how local, state, and federal partners feel collaboration can be enhanced.
Objective 3: Measure the amount of communication and collaboration related to MJTF participation.
Objective 4: Compare task force specific and regional outcomes and relate these back to staff costs to determine if expected outcomes were realized.
Task Force Surveys
In May 2011, a list of multi-jurisdictional task forces (MJTFs) that conduct operations aimed at reducing the flow of drugs into San Diego and Imperial Counties was created with input from partners at the Chula Vista PD, San Diego County Sheriff's Department, and California Border Alliance Group (CBAG). For the purpose of this project, a task force was defined as any cooperative law enforcement effort involving two or more criminal justice agencies with jurisdiction over two or more areas, sharing the common goal of impacting one or more aspects of drug control and violent crime problems. San Diego County task forces were included because the two efforts being evaluated as part of this project were located within this region and Imperial County was included to enhance understanding of the issues facing the Southern District of California and how the additional funding provided to the two grantees was leveraged to target identified issues. A written survey was administered to these task forces, rather than a telephone interview as originally intended, based on feedback from the project partners regarding the methods they thought would be most likely to yield a high response rate and would enable stakeholders the opportunity to compile the information that was being requested.
Law Enforcement Stakeholder Surveys
Researchers created a law enforcement stakeholder survey to be administered to local, state, and federal sworn staff who had ever had direct experience on a multi-jurisdictional task force (MJTF) or had worked on an issue connected to cross-border drug-related violence. Surveys were administered in January 2013 with respondents having the option of completing the survey through an electronic link, on the computer and returning it via email, or by hand. There were two surveys conducted: Imperial County Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey and San Diego Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey. The survey instrument for Imperial County was similar to the one used for San Diego County, but excluded questions regarding informal assistance to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funded efforts, as well as questions used for the Social Network Analysis (SNA).
Social Network Analysis (SNA)
Supplementing the law enforcement stakeholder surveys, a social network analysis was conducted for respondents who indicated task force assignment to one of the five ARRA-funded efforts (the Cross-Border Kidnapping/Violence Task Force (CBVTF), the Major Mexican Traffickers Task Force (MMTTF), the Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group (VCTF-GG), the Border Crime Suppression Team (BCST), and the Violent Crimes Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF)). The purpose of the network analysis was to graphically show how individuals in this network collaborate and how they were linked. Through SNA, the analytic assessment of the ties or relations within a network was examined through both visualization and empirical analyses. Visualization allowed for the pictorial display of the network with characters (often called nodes) and lines (often called edges) of various colors and shapes. Both types of analysis were important because one allowed the reader to visualize the abstract network, while the other provided network statistics, such as network cohesion, actor centrality, and the existence of possible network subgroups, that further helped in understanding how the members of the network worked together.
Residents in communities near the border in both San Diego and Imperial Counties were surveyed in December 2011 over a four-day period regarding their perceptions of safety.
Calls for Service Data
Based on feedback from program stakeholders, another additional research component was added to the project to determine if crime, as measured by calls for service (CFS), changed in any measurable way following a large task force takedown. To answer this research question, the addresses where 53 of the 119 arrests that were part of two of the three operations described for Criminal Activity Data were compiled.
Staff and Cost Measures Data
Research staff worked with MJTF leaders to capture information related to drug seizures, asset seizures, and drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) disrupted and dismantled on an Excel tracking sheet for each calendar year 2007 through 2012 or for the period of time in existence, if less than this six-year period. In addition, staffing data, including the number of assigned staff, their rank, and their originating agency also were compiled for the same time period. With these figures, the researchers worked with local and state law enforcement agencies to determine the median 2012 salary for a given position, and with federal law enforcement agencies to determine the median Grade and Step Pay Level, which was then tied to the 2012 San Diego Salary Table published by the United States Office of Personnel Management.
Prosecution Outcome Data
A list of all individuals arrested by the North County Gang Task Force (NCGTF), East County Gang Task Force (ECGTF), Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group (VCTF-GG), and Border Crime Suppression Team (BCST) between 2007 and 2012 was compiled.
Countywide Arrest Data
Arrest data, which measures law enforcement's response to crime, were compiled and summarized from the California Department of Justice's Web site to provide further context to the task force specific results.
Criminal Activity Data
In January 2012, a large-scale takedown of Mexican Mafia and street gang members and associates with ties to the Mexican Mafia occurred across San Diego County. As part of these coordinated efforts, the North County Gang Task Force (NCGTF) conducted an 18-month long investigation that resulted in eight indictments charging 51 individuals with both state and federal crimes including attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, money laundering, and drug trafficking violations; the East County Gang Task Force (ECGTF) conducted a 12-month long investigation that focused on gang-related methamphetamine distribution and resulted in four indictments and eight complaints against 21 individuals; and the Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group (VCTF-GG) conducted an operation which resulted in five indictments charging 36 individuals with such crimes as conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, violent crime in aid of racketeering, distribution and conspiracy to distribute meth and heroin, and criminal forfeiture.
While the researchers were not aware of these operations before their occurrence, it did offer an opportunity to refine the evaluation design and measures by looking more closely at the individuals who were arrested to determine how dangerous they were, as measured by their criminal history, and what the short-term effect of their being taken off the street around the arrest location.
Imperial County Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey
In January 2013, research staff collaborated with the California Border Alliance Group (CBAG) staff in Imperial County to distribute the survey to local, state, and federal stakeholders in these jurisdictions.
Imperial County Resident Survey and San Diego County Resident Survey
A random sample of households residing in border communities in both counties were contacted using Random Digit Dialing (RDD). Phone numbers were randomly sampled in those zip codes closest to the United States-Mexican border in San Diego County in Chula Vista, National City, San Diego, and unincorporated areas served by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department including Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley. For Imperial County, zip codes closest to the United States-Mexican border also were included as part of the sampling design. A total of 804 surveys were conducted with both San Diego (n=402) and Imperial (n=402) County residents between December 5th and December 8th, 2011.
Imperial Task Force Survey and San Diego Task Force Survey
For the San Diego sample, a total of 18 surveys were distributed and returned; for Imperial County, six surveys were distributed to the identified task forces and all were returned.
Prosecution Outcome Data
To compile the list of targets to be tracked, law enforcement partners provided the names, dates of birth, arrest dates/years, case numbers (if available), and arrest charges. Due to the complexity of the data management systems at the United States Attorney's Office (USAO), staff there manually searched archival records for all of these individuals and provided an Excel file for those individuals who could be accurately identified. This file included the federal charges associated with arrest, arraignment outcome, conviction date, conviction charges, sentence date, and sentence outcome. To ensure data reliability, research staff coordinated with USAO staff and manually reviewed a sample of cases in these archival records. Once this information was compiled, the list of names was shared with Information Technology staff at the District Attorney's (DA) Office who was able to run database queries for these individuals based on their full names, dates of birth, and case numbers. To supplement this automated procedure and ensure valid and reliable results, research staff manually collected information from the DA's Office Case Management System (CMS) on individuals who could not be found via the database queries. Research staff collected information similar to the data found in the USAO's archival system, but at the local jurisdictional level. Local arrest and conviction charges were coded for offense type using the California Department of Criminal Justice Statistics Center Offense Codes by Code Section in order to determine the highest charge. However, since the federal charges do not have hierarchies, the highest arrest and conviction offenses could not be determined.
San Diego Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey and Data used for Social Network Analysis
Researchers contacted executives at 30 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in San Diego in December 2012 asking them to identify individuals at their agencies who met the study criteria. Some of the agency leads shared direct contact information with research staff for distribution and others asked that they be sent a link to distribute to their staffs.
The original goal of receiving 500 completed surveys was exceeded, with a total of 813 surveys returned, either electronically or via paper copy, from 28 different agencies. United States Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) returned more than half of the 813 surveys, and their responses systematically varied a number of key outcomes, related in part to their low rate of participation in task forces. To ensure that their perspectives were included but did not skew the results, all of the surveys from the Border Patrol agents who indicated prior or current task force assignment were included, and a random sample from the other agents was selected to make the sample comparable to the distribution from the FBI. In addition, because of the small number of state agencies included in the sample, these respondents were included in the local agency grouping after analyses determined that doing so also did not significantly alter the results.
Staff and Cost Measures Data
Outcome and staffing data were compiled for three of the four ARRA-supplemented FBI task forces in San Diego County (Cross-Border Kidnapping/Violence Task Force (CBVTF), Major Mexican Traffickers Task Force (MMTTF), and VCTF-GG), the ARRA-funded BCST, and the three comparison task forces in San Diego County (NCGTF and ECGTF) and Imperial County (Imperial County Violent Crimes Safe Streets Task Force (IC-SSTF)).
Criminal Activity Data
The North County Gang Task Force (NCGTF), East County Gang Task Force (ECGTF), and Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group (VCTF-GG) provided the names and dates of birth of the individuals arrested during a January 2012 sweep. Of the 119 defendants, 110 individuals could be reliably identified in the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) database, a criminal justice enterprise network used by local, state, and federal agencies throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. Once a target was correctly identified, data collectors gathered details of every law enforcement contact for each individual in the ARJIS database within the past ten years including dates of contact, type of contact, the status of the defendant (suspect or accomplice), and the agency making contact.
Calls for Service Data
Researchers worked with staff at seven of the local law enforcement agencies to compile calls for service (CFS) data for the 90 days before and 90 days after an arrest was made in a quarter-mile buffer around each arrest location.
Countywide Arrest Data
Arrests for any violent crime and for felony-level drug-related crime were summarized for the years 2007 through 2012.
Imperial County Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey: Local, state, and federal sworn staff who had (1) direct experience on a multi-jurisdictional task force or (2) worked on an issue connected to cross-border drug-related violence in Imperial County, California in January 2013
Imperial County Resident Survey: Residents in communities near the United States-Mexican border Imperial County, California in December 2011
Imperial Task Force Survey: Multi-jurisdictional task forces that conducted operations aimed at reducing the flow of drugs into Imperial County in May 2011
Prosecution Outcome Data: Individuals arrested by the North County Gang Task Force, East County Gang Task Force, Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group, and Border Crime Suppression Team between 2007 and 2012
San Diego County Resident Survey: Residents in communities near the United States-Mexican border San Diego County, California in December 2011
San Diego Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey: Local, state, and federal sworn staff who had (1) direct experience on a multi-jurisdictional task force or (2) worked on an issue connected to cross-border drug-related violence in San Diego County, California in January 2013
San Diego Task Force Survey: Multi-jurisdictional task forces that conducted operations aimed at reducing the flow of drugs into San Diego County in May 2011
Staff and Cost Measures Data: Staff members of the Cross-Border Kidnapping/Violence Task Force, the Major Mexican Traffickers Task Force, the Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group, the Border Crime Suppression Team, the North County Gang Task Force, the East County Gang Task Force, and the Imperial County Violent Crimes Safe Streets Task Force between 2007 and 2012
Criminal Activity Data: Individuals arrested in January 2012 by the North County Gang Task Force, the East County Gang Task Force, and Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group
Calls for Service Data: Calls for service from addresses in a quarter-mile buffer around each location where 53 of 119 arrests were made in January 2012
Countywide Arrest Data: Arrests for any violent crime and for felony-level drug-related crime in Imperial and San Diego Counties, California from 2007 through 2012
Data used for Social Network Analysis: Individuals who indicated task force assignment to one of the five American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded efforts (Cross-Border Kidnapping/Violence Task Force, Major Mexican Traffickers Task Force, Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group, Violent Crimes Safe Streets Task Force, and Border Crime Suppression Team) in January 2013
Staff and Cost Measures Data: Task Force,
Data used for Social Network Analysis: Task Force,
Calls for Service Data: Arrest event,
San Diego County Resident Survey: Individual,
Prosecution Outcome Data: Individual,
Imperial County Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey: Individual,
Criminal Activity Data: Individual,
San Diego Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey: Individual,
Imperial County Resident Survey: Individual,
Countywide Arrest Data: County,
San Diego Task Force Survey: Individual,
Imperial Task Force Survey: Individual
administrative records data,
Imperial County Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey (199 variables, n=35)
Respondents were asked about their experience in law enforcement including how long they had served at their current agency, whether they had served with another law enforcement agency in Imperial County prior to joining their current agency, and the different assignments they have had that involved issues related to cross-border drug trafficking and/or related violence. Respondents were also asked about their knowledge and experience working with multi-jurisdictional task forces (MJTF) and other collaborative efforts in Imperial County such as whether they have heard of certain task forces and the number of people they could contact at other Imperial County agencies. Additionally, respondents were also asked about the perceived benefits of MJTF to individual agencies and the region overall as well as the perception of how well local and federal agencies in Imperial County do in terms of collaborating and sharing information/intelligence, either as part of a MJTF or in the normal course of business.
Imperial County Resident Survey (70 variables, n=402) and San Diego County Resident Survey (69 variables, n=402)
The instrument included questions regarding the respondents' perceptions of crime and safety such as how safe the participant felt in their neighborhood. Respondents were also asked how concerned they were about various crimes such as illegal drug use, car theft, or murder in their neighborhood at present and compared to two years ago. Participants were also asked their opinion about how much crime in their neighborhood is drug-related spillover from the border, how confident they were that local law enforcement was working effectively to keep out drug related crime from Mexico, and their assessment of how well law enforcement is preventing crime in their neighborhood.
Imperial Task Force Survey (84 variables, n=6) and San Diego Task Force Survey (101 variables, n=18)
The instrument asked respondents which multi-jurisdictional task force (MJTF) they represented, when the MJTF was formed, and when they became involved with the MJTF. Respondents were also asked the benefits of their MJTF, how the MJTF came into existence, how many agencies were attached to their MJTF, how many staff were assigned to their MJTF. Respondents identified which agencies were formally attached with their task force and asked to describe their MJTF's level of communication with other task forces and agencies.
Prosecution Outcome Data (115 variables, n=1,973)
The data file contains the name of the task force the participant was arrested by, arrest dates, criminal charges, convictions, and sentence information.
San Diego Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey (353 variables, n=460)
This instrument included questions about the officers' law enforcement experience, knowledge and level and type of contact with different task forces, perceptions of task force effectiveness and significant challenges, and how well they thought different entities in San Diego County communicated and collaborated with one another.
Staff and Cost Measures Data (61 variables, n=7)
The data file includes staffing costs, number of staff, and the number of agencies represented in each year from 2007-2012. It also includes the amount of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and dollar amount of assets seized, as well as the number of drug trafficking organizations disrupted and dismantled in each year from 2007-2012.
Criminal Activity Data (50 variables, n=110)
The data file includes the task force the participant was arrested by, the name of the operation during which they were arrested, and the date of their first contact with Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) database. It also has the total number contacts such as mentions in arrest reports or as a witness and the total number of violent charges, property charges, and drug charges. Additionally, it contains the total number contacts with various area police departments.
Calls for Service Data (Excel spreadsheet with multiple worksheets)
The Excel file contains one worksheet with the ArrestID, City, arrests before the ArrestID, arrests after the ArrestID, the percent change, and the task force. A second worksheet summarizes the information from the first worksheet.
Countywide Arrest Data (Excel spreadsheet with multiple worksheets)
The Excel file contains one table with the number of violent offense arrests in San Diego and Imperial Counties for each year from 2007-2012. A second worksheet has felony drug arrests during the same time period.
Data used for Social Network Analysis (Excel spreadsheet with multiple worksheets)
The Excel file is comprised of several worksheets that include matrices of Social Network Analysis (SNA) IDs and attributes such as SNA ID, Agency, and multi-jurisdictional task force (MJTF).
Response rates were not applicable/not available except as indicated below:
- Imperial Task Force Survey: 100 percent
- San Diego Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey: 51 percent
- San Diego Task Force Survey: 100 percent
No scales were used except where indicated below:
- Imperial County Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey: Several Likert-type scales were used.
- Imperial County Resident Survey: Several Likert-type scales were used.
- San Diego County Resident Survey: Several Likert-type scales were used.
- San Diego Law Enforcement Stakeholder Survey: Several Likert-type scales were used.