Cover Story
Have guns will travel

Organized cargo theft gangs dominate specific U.S. regions. Such gangs were described in a 2006 paper published by Freightwatch Group.

Miami/South Florida: Considered “most prolific in high-value cargo theft,” gangs in South Florida can be divided into groups that work within only Florida and Georgia and gangs that travel all over the southeastern United States. Groups that roam outside the two states are best at targeting expensive freight, while those that stay in Georgia and Florida usually watch truck stops, freight yards and other areas where tractor-trailers frequently are unattended.

New York/New Jersey: In the northern part of this region, larger gangs have ties to south Florida. Gangs in southern New York and New Jersey are smaller and independent, and operate in the two states as well as eastern Pennsylvania.

Chicago: Chicago gangs are typically local, but strike rail yards and other freight besides tractor-trailers.

Texas: Most cargo theft gangs in Texas operate from Dallas, and make Houston a prime target area. Miami/South Florida groups also hit trucks in Texas because of expensive computer equipment and similar freight built and shipped through the Lone Star State.

Atlanta: Most gangs are “home-grown,” operating mainly within Georgia, although the large volume of cargo theft makes it among the most risky areas for shippers.

Southern California: Extremely active gangs often seek easy targets; they’re more inclined to use violence to obtain high-value cargo. It is believed they want to stay near the areas they are most comfortable in, and would rather force a driver from a vehicle than follow it too far.