Starita hones academic expertise at international gang training conference

August 19, 2009 | Leave a Comment


Buies Creek, N.C.- Already the author of a book on the Salvadoran gang MS-13, Dr. Cynthia Starita, assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Campbell University, expanded her expertise by becoming certified in three more areas of gang-related study at the 2009 National Gang Crime Research Center's (NGCRC) annual conference in Chicago Il. The conference was held August 8-14.

Starita earned additional certifications in International Gang Specialization, International and Trans-National Gang problems and Gangs and Organized Crime.

"Receiving these certifications is just working towards attaining the next level of certification," "Starita said. "I guess you could say, it means becoming more of an expert."

Starita, who presented research on her book, "The Mounting Threat of Domestic Terrorism: Al Qaeda and the Salvadoran Gang MS-13," published by Leo Frank Balk Scholarly Publications in 2008, joined representatives of law enforcement, the FBI, the community, the clergy and academia, among others, for the conference. The 12th annual conference featured presentations on a variety of issues such as gangs on the Canadian frontier, the use of the polygraph in gang prosecution cases, gang profile analyses, white extremists, bikers and drugs in the Midwest, and keeping gang witnesses safe.

"I've been to conferences before, but the NGCRC is looking at the international not just the national perspective and who's selling drugs on the street," Starita said. "The sessions don't just focus on drugs and weapons-related violence, but the overall role they play nationally and internationally in organized crime and terrorism."

Starita's book is an intense study of the gang MS-13's involvement with and ability to aid terrorists by providing operatives, funds, conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

"The gang started in Los Angeles and consisted of a group of Salvadoran peasants trained as guerilla fighters in Honduras," said Starita. "They quickly became known as one of the most violent gangs in the area. Because of their extreme violence, various members of the gang were soon arrested and deported back to El Salvador where they flourished, continuing to grow in the U.S. as well. Today, there is an MS-13 presence in every state in America."

Dr. Cynthia L. Starita holds a bachelor's degree and a Master of Science degree in biological sciences with a minor in Forensic Science from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. She went on to earn a Master of Education in secondary education from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Miss. and a Ph.D. in Administration of Justice from The University of Southern Mississippi. She has prior experience in and as an instructor of Forensic Science and Crime Scene Technology. Starita has served as an assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Campbell University since August 2008.