Ray Colgan, the executive director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, says the most important work the task force does is often about behind the scenes victories: such as keeping a single teen from joining a gang, or convincing another to leave one.
"I can't tell you about the wins because you really don't see them," he says. "I can tell you about the losses."
The losses range from drug sales to murder: Colgan's latest example is the stabbing death of 15-year-old Miguel Hernandez in Manassas, a crime police link to the MS-13 gang.
But the task force may soon be working with fewer resources, because it can no longer rely on federal funds that have been earmarked by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) each year since 2003.
Last November, Wolf's Republican colleagues banned earmarks, and that means the task force is trying to find $3 million through competitive federal grants.
Wolf says the process leaves him concerned about the task force's future.
"Without the gang task force, this thing would come back like a raging fire," he says.
The task force won't find out about the grants until the fall.