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A gang is a
group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with ...
or
society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...
of associates, friends or members of a family with a defined
leadership Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and B ...

leadership
and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over
territory A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names ...
in a
community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense of place (geography), plac ...

community
and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal, and possibly violent, behavior.


Definition

The word "gang" derives from the
past participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
of
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
''gan'', meaning "to go". It is
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
with
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
''gangr'', meaning "journey." It typically means a group of people, and may have neutral, positive or negative connotations depending on usage.


History

In discussing the
banditry 250px, Carmine Crocco's lieutenant Agostino Sacchitiello and members of his band from Bisaccia, Campania photographed in 1862 Banditry is a type of organized crime committed by outlaws typically involving the threat or use of violence. A person w ...
in American history Barrington Moore, Jr. suggests that gangsterism as a "form of self-help which victimizes others" may appear in societies which lack strong "forces of
law and order In modern politics, law and order, also known as tough on crime and the War on Crime, is demands for a strict criminal justice 350px, United States criminal justice system flowchart. Criminal justice is the delivery of justice Justice, on ...
"; he characterizes European
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disc ...
as "mainly gangsterism that had become society itself and acquired respectability through the notions of chivalry". The 17th century saw London "terrorized by a series of organized gangs", some of them known as the Mims, Hectors, Bugles, and Dead Boys. These gangs often came into conflict with each other. Members dressed "with colored ribbons to distinguish the different factions." During the
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the wikt:period, period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian era, Georgian period and preceded the Edwa ...
, criminals and gangs started to form organizations which would collectively become London's criminal underworld. Criminal societies in the underworld started to develop their own ranks and groups which were sometimes called ''families'', and were often made up of lower-classes and operated on pick-pocketry, prostitution, forgery and counterfeiting, commercial burglary and money laundering schemes. Unique also were the use of slangs and argots used by Victorian criminal societies to distinguish each other, like those propagated by street gangs like the
Peaky Blinders The Peaky Blinders were a street gang A gang is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, ...

Peaky Blinders
. In the United States, the history of gangs began on the East Coast in 1783 following the American Revolution. Gangs arose further in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
by the middle of the nineteenth century and were a concern for city leaders from the time they appeared. The emergence of the gangs was largely attributed to the vast rural population immigration to the urban areas. The first street-gang in the United States, the 40 Thieves, began around the late 1820s in
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
. The gangs in
Washington D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial The Lincoln Memorial is a US national memorial built to honor the 16th President of ...

Washington D.C.
had control of what is now
Federal Triangle The Federal Triangle is a Triangle, triangular area in Washington, D.C. formed by 15th Street NW, Constitution Avenue, Constitution Avenue NW, Pennsylvania Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and E Street NW. Federal Triangle is occupied by 10 large cit ...
, in a region then known as
Murder Bay Murder Bay was a disreputable slum in Washington D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial The Lincoln Memorial is a US ...
. Organized crime in the United States first came to prominence in the
Old West The American frontier, also known as the Old West or the Wild West, includes the geography, history, folklore, and culture in the forward wave of American expansion that began with European colonial settlements in the early 17th century and en ...
and historians such as Brian J. Robb and Erin H. Turner traced the first organized crime syndicates to the Coschise Cowboy Gang and the
Wild Bunch Wild, wild or wild may refer to: Common meanings * Wild animal * Wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized ...
.
Prohibition Prohibition is the act or practice of forbidding something by law; more particularly the term refers to the banning of the manufacture Manufacturing is the production of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that st ...

Prohibition
would also cause a new boom in the emergence of gangs;
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
for example had over 1,000 gangs in the 1920s. Outside of the US and the UK, gangs exist in both urban and rural forms, like the French gangs of the
Belle Époque The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque (; French language, French for "Beautiful Epoch") is the term often given to a period of History of France, French and European history, usually dated to between 1871–80 and the outbreak of World War I ...
like the
Apaches The Apache () are a group of culturally related Native American tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human social group. The predominant usage of the term is in the discipline of anthropology. Th ...
and the
Bonnot Gang The Bonnot Gang (''La Bande à Bonnot'') was a French criminal anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy o ...
.
Philipp Blom Philipp Blom (born 1970) is a German historian, novelist, journalist and translator. Biography Blom was born in Hamburg, Germany, grew up in Detmold, and studied in Vienna and Oxford. He holds a DPhil in Modern History from Oxford University. Afte ...
, ''The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914'', 2008, ,
p. 372
/ref> Many criminal organizations like the Italian
Cosa Nostra The Sicilian Mafia, also simply known as the Mafia and frequently referred to as La Cosa Nostra (, ; "our thing") by its members, is an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, ...
, Japanese
Yakuza , also known as , are members of transnational organized crime syndicates originating in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_c ...
, Russian
Bratva Russian organized crime or Russian mafia (, ), otherwise known as Bratva (), is a collective A collective is a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together to achieve a common objec ...
, and Chinese Triads, have existed for centuries.


Types

Gangs, syndicates, and other criminal groups, come in many forms, each with their specialties and culture.


Mafia

One of the most infamous criminal gangs are
Mafias A mafia is a type of criminal organization whose central activity is the arbitration of disputes between criminals and the organization and enforcement of illicit agreements through the use of violence. Mafias often engage in secondary activities ...
, whose activities include racketeering and overseeing illicit agreements. These include the Sicilian
Cosa Nostra The Sicilian Mafia, also simply known as the Mafia and frequently referred to as La Cosa Nostra (, ; "our thing") by its members, is an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, ...
and the Italian-American
Mafia A mafia is a type of criminal organization whose central activity is the arbitration of disputes between criminals and the organization and enforcement of illicit agreements through the use of violence. Mafias often engage in secondary activities ...
. The Neapolitan
Camorra The Camorra (; ) is an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regio ...
, the Calabrian
'Ndrangheta The 'Ndrangheta (, , ) is a prominent -type and based in the peninsular and mountainous region of and dating back to the late 18th century. It is considered to be among the most powerful organized crime groups in the world.Sacra Corona Unita Sacra Corona Unita (, ; acronym: SCU) also known as fourth mafia is a Mafia-type organized crime, criminal organization from the Apulia region in Southern Italy, and is especially active in the areas of Brindisi, Lecce, and Taranto. Origin of t ...
are similar
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
organized gangs. Outside of Italy, the Irish Mob, Japanese
Yakuza , also known as , are members of transnational organized crime syndicates originating in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_c ...
, Chinese Triads, and Russian
Bratva Russian organized crime or Russian mafia (, ), otherwise known as Bratva (), is a collective A collective is a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together to achieve a common objec ...
are also examples.


Narco

Narcos ''Narcos'' is an American crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Li ...
or
drug cartels A drug cartel is any Organized crime, criminal organization with the intention of supplying Illegal drug trade, drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterpri ...
are slang terms used for criminal groups (mainly Latins) who primarily deal with the illegal drug trade.Ovalle Marroquin, Lilian P. "Las Fronteras de la 'narcocultura.' " 2007. Digital file. These include drug cartels like the Medellin Cartel and other Colombian cartels, Mexican cartels like the
Sinaloa Cartel The Sinaloa Cartel ( es, link=no, Cártel de Sinaloa), also known as the CDS, the Guzmán-Loera Organization, the Pacific Cartel, the Federation and the Blood Alliance, is a large international International is an adjective (also used as a noun) ...
and
Los Zetas Los Zetas (, Spanish for "The Zs") is a Mexican criminal syndicate Financial crime is crime committed against property, involving the unlawful conversion (law), conversion of the ownership of property (belonging to one person) to one's own perso ...
, and the Primeiro Comando da Capital. Other examples are Jamaican
Yardies Yardie (or Yaadi) is a term often used, particularly within the Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label= Antillean Creole, Kawayib; nl, Caraïben; Papiamento: ) is a region of the Americ ...
. Many narcos are known for their use of paramilitaries and
narcoterrorism Narcoterrorism, in its original context, is understood to refer to the attempts of narcotics traffickers to influence the policies of a government or a society through violence and intimidation, and to hinder the enforcement of anti-drug laws by the ...
like the
Gulf Cartel The Gulf Cartel ( es, link=no, Cártel del Golfo, ''Golfos'', or CDG) is a criminal syndicate and drug trafficking organization in Mexico, and perhaps one of the oldest organized crime Organized crime is a category of , national, or local gr ...
and Shower Posse.


Street gang

Street gangs are gangs formed by youths in urban areas, and are known primarily for
street fighting Street fighting is hand-to-hand combat in public places, between individuals or groups of people. Unlike sport fighting, a street fight might involve weapons, multiple opponents, and no rules. The venue is usually a public place (e.g. a street) ...

street fighting
and gang warfare. The term "street gang" is commonly used interchangeably with "youth gang", referring to neighborhood or street-based youth groups that meet "gang" criteria. Miller (1992) defines a street gang as "a self-formed association of peers, united by mutual interests, with identifiable leadership and internal organization, who act collectively or as individuals to achieve specific purposes, including the conduct of illegal activity and control of a particular territory, facility, or enterprise." Some of the well-known ones are the Black gangs like the
Bloods The Bloods are a primarily African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person ...
and the
Crips The Crips is an alliance of street gang, gangs which is based in the Coastal California, coastal regions of southern California. It was founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1969, mainly by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. Once a sing ...
, also the
Vice Lords The Almighty Vice Lord Nation (Vice Lords for short, abbreviated AVLN) is the second largest and one of the oldest street, and prison gangs in Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = In ...
and the
Gangster Disciples The Gangster Disciples is a African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, black racial groups of Africa. ...

Gangster Disciples
. Other racial gangs also exist like the
Trinitario The Trinitarios is a Hispanic The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano) refers to people, cultures Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour ...

Trinitario
,
Sureños Sureños (; Spanish: ''Southerners'')‍, Southern United Raza, Sur 13 or Sureños X3 are groups of loosely affiliated gangs that pay tribute to the Mexican Mafia The Mexican Mafia (Spanish: ''Mafia Mexicana''), also known as La eMe (Spanish f ...
, Tiny Rascal Gang,
Asian Boyz The Asian Boyz, also known as ABZ, AB-26, or ABZ Crips, are a street gang based in Southern California Southern California (popularly known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the south ...
, Wa Ching,
Zoe Pound Zoe Pound is a criminal street gang A gang is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, ...
, The Latin Kings, The Hammerskins,
Nazi Lowriders The Nazi Lowriders (or NLR, or The Ride) are a Neo-Nazi Neo-Nazism refers to the post–World War II militant, social, and political movements seeking to revive and reinstate Nazism, Nazi ideology. Neo-Nazis seek to employ their ideology ...
and
Blood & Honour Blood & Honour is a neo-Nazi music promotion network and right-wing extremist political group founded in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, ...
.


Biker gang

Biker gangs are
motorcycle clubs A motorcycle club is a group of individuals whose primary interest and activities involve motorcycles. A motorcycle group can range as clubbed groups of different bikes or bikers who own same model of vehicle like the Harley Owners Group. Types ...
who conduct illegal activities like the
Hells Angels The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson Harley-Davidson, Inc., H-D, or Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, W ...
, the Pagans, the
Outlaws An outlaw is a person living outside the law. Outlaws or The Outlaws may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * The Outlaws, characters in the ''Just William (book series), Just William'' series of children's books by Richmal ...
, and the
Bandidos The Bandidos Motorcycle Club, also known as the Bandido Nation, is a one percenter motorcycle club with a worldwide membership. Formed in San Leon, Texas in 1966, the Bandidos MC is estimated to have between 2,000 and 2,500 members and 303 chapt ...
, known as the "Big Four". The U.S. Department of Justice defines outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMG) as "organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises". Some clubs are considered "outlaw" not necessarily because they engage in criminal activity, but because they are not sanctioned by the
American Motorcyclist Association The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is an American nonprofit organization of more than 200,000 motorcyclists that organizes numerous motorcycling activities and campaigns for motorcyclists' legal rights. Its motto, mission statement is "to ...
(AMA) and do not adhere to the AMA's rules. Instead the clubs have their own set of bylaws reflecting the outlaw biker culture. Biker gangs also exist outside of the United States such as the
Rebels Motorcycle Club The Rebels Motorcycle Club is an outlaw motorcycle club in Australia with around 70 chapters and 2,000+ members nationwide making it the largest club in the country. It was founded by Clint Jacks in Brisbane, Queensland in 1969 and was originally ...
in Australia.


Prison gang

Prison gangs are formed inside prisons and correctional facilities for mutual protection and entrancement like the
Mexican Mafia The Mexican Mafia (Spanish: ''Mafia Mexicana''), also known as La eMe (Spanish for "the M"), is a highly organized Mexican American Mexican Americans ( es, mexicano-estadounidenses or ) are Americans Americans are the Citizenship of ...
and
United Blood Nation United Blood Nation (UBN), also known as the East Coast Bloods, is a street A street is a public thoroughfare in a built environment. It is a public parcel of landform, land adjoining buildings in an urban area, urban context, on which peop ...
. Prison gangs often have several "affiliates" or "chapters" in different state prison systems that branch out due to the movement or transfer of their members. According to criminal justice professor John Hagedorn, many of the biggest gangs from Chicago originated from prisons. From the St. Charles Illinois Youth Center originated the Conservative Vice Lords and Blackstone Rangers. Although the majority of gang leaders from Chicago are now incarcerated, most of those leaders continue to manage their gangs from within prison.


Punk gang

Punk gangs are a unique type of gang made up of members who follow the punk rock ideology. Unlike other gangs and criminal groups, punk gangs follow a range of political and philosophical beliefs that can range from
alt-right File:Donald Trump alt-right supporter (32452974604).jpg, upright=1.35, An alt-right supporter at the March 4 Trump rally in Saint Paul, Minnesota; due to copyright issues, a depiction of Pepe the Frog on the man's sign has been digitally remove ...
to radical left. Differing ideologies are one of the causes of conflicts between rival punk gangs, compared to other street gangs and criminal groups who wage gang war solely for illegal profit, vendetta, and territory. Most of them can be seen in political and social protests and demonstrations and are sometimes in violent confrontation with law-enforcement. Examples of punk gangs are Fight For Freedom, Friends Stand United, and
Straight Edge Straight edge (sometimes abbreviated sXe or signified by XXX or X) is a subculture A subculture is a group of people within a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in h ...

Straight Edge
gangs.


Vigilante gang

Contemporary organized crime has also led to the creation of anti-gang groups, vigilante gangs, and autodefensas, who are groups who profess to be fighting against gang influence, but share characteristics and acts similarly to a gang. These include groups like the
Los Pepes Los Pepes, a name derived from the Spanish phrase "Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar" ("Persecuted by Pablo Escobar"), was a vigilante Vigilantism is the act of enforcement, investigation or punishment of perceived offenses without legal authority. ...
,
Sombra Negra The ''Sombra Negra'' ( Spanish for "Black Shadow"), also known as ''El Clan de Planta'' ("The Plant Clan"), are (as of 2014) death squad A death squad is an armed group whose primary activity is carrying out extrajudicial killings or forced ...
, Friends Stand United,
People Against Gangsterism and Drugs People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) is a group formed in 1996 in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, South Africa. The organisation came to prominence for acts of vigilante violence against gangsters, including arson and murder. Origins PAG ...
, and OG Imba.


Structure

Many types of gangs make up the general structure of an organized group. Understanding the structure of gangs is a critical skill to defining the types of strategies that are most effective with dealing with them, from the at-risk youth to the gang leaders. Not all individuals who display the outward signs of gang membership are actually involved in criminal activities. An individual's age, physical structure, ability to fight, willingness to commit violence, and arrest record are often principal factors in determining where an individual stands in the gang hierarchy; how money derived from criminal activity and ability to provide for the gang also impacts the individual's status within the gang. The structure of gangs varies depending primarily on size, which can range from five or ten to thousands. Many of the larger gangs break up into smaller groups, cliques or sub-sets (these smaller groups can be called "sets" in gang slang.) The cliques typically bring more territory to a gang as they expand and recruit new members. Most gangs operate informally with leadership falling to whomever takes control; others have distinct leadership and are highly structured, which resembles more or less a business or corporation. Criminal gangs may function both inside and outside of prison, such as the
Nuestra Familia Nuestra Familia ( Spanish for ''"our family"'') is a criminal organization Organized crime is a category of transnational organized crime, transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals to engage in ...
,
Mexican Mafia The Mexican Mafia (Spanish: ''Mafia Mexicana''), also known as La eMe (Spanish for "the M"), is a highly organized Mexican American Mexican Americans ( es, mexicano-estadounidenses or ) are Americans Americans are the Citizenship of ...
,
Folk Nation The Folk Nation (commonly referred to as Folk or Folks) is an alliance of street gangs originating in Chicago, established in 1978. The alliance has since spread throughout the United States, particularly the Midwest region of the United States. ...
, and the Brazilian PCC. During the 1970s, prison gangs in
Cape Town Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad ; Xhosa language, Xhosa: ''iKapa;'') is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and also the legislative Capital city, capital of South Africa. Colloquially named the Mother City, it is ...

Cape Town
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
began recruiting street gang members from outside and helped increase associations between prison and street gangs. In the US, the prison gang the
Aryan Brotherhood The Aryan Brotherhood, also known as the Brand or the AB, is a Neo-Nazism, neo-Nazi prison gang and organized crime syndicate based in the United States which has an estimated 15,000–20,000 members both in and out of prison. The Anti-Defamatio ...

Aryan Brotherhood
is involved in organized crime outside of prison.


Membership

Different gangs and criminal syndicates have various roles and members. Most are typically divided into: Fall 2017 * Boss: known in some groups as leader, elder, don, ''oyabun'', or ''original gangster'', is the one who has control over the movement, plans, and actions of a gang.Raz, Jacob. "Insider Outsider: The Way of the Yakuza." Kyoto Journal. Last modified 17 April 2011. https://kyotojournal.org/society/insider-outsider/. Gang leaders are the upper echelons of the gang's command. Often, they distance themselves from the gang activities and make attempts to appear legitimate, possibly operating a business that they run as a front for the gang's drug dealing or other illegal operations. * Underboss: the second in command of the gang. * Captain: is the one who issue the command from the boss/underboss to the gangsters. Captain is responsible for the activities in the field and of the recruitment of new members. * Gangsters: also known as soldiers, ''soldatos'', or ''kobun'', are the typical gang members who commit the activities of the gang. * Associates: known also as gang affiliates or ''hang-arounds'', are people who are not full members of the gang, but either support and participate in the activities of a gang, or have livelihoods tied to gang activities. Included here are specialized roles like enforcers (
hitmen Contract killing is a form of murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification (jurisprudence), justification or valid excuse (legal), excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice afore ...
who work for criminal organizations), falcons ("eyes and ears" of the streets), and mules (smugglers who transports
drugs A drug is any chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched ...
,
money Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a ...
, and other contraband materials). The numerous push factors experienced by at-risk individuals vary situationally, but follow a common theme of the desire for power, respect, money, and protection. In neighborhoods with high levels of violence, adolescents typically experience pressure to join a street gang for protection from other violent actors (sometimes including
police violence Police brutality is the excessive and unwarranted use of force by law enforcement. It is an extreme form of police misconduct or violence and is a civil rights violation. It also refers to a situation where officers exercise undue or excessive f ...
and the waging of the ), perpetuating a
cycle of violence The term cycle of violence refers to repeated and dangerous acts of violence as a cyclical pattern,cycle of poverty In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods an ...
through profits from illegal activity. They may feel that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em". Upon joining a gang, they instantly gain a feeling of belonging and identity; they are surrounded with individuals whom they can relate to. They have generally grown up in the same area as one another and can bond over similar needs. In some areas, joining a gang is an integrated part of the growing-up process. Gang membership is generally maintained by gangs as a lifetime commitment, reinforced through identification such as tattoos, and ensured through intimidation and coercion. Gang defectors are often subject to retaliation from the deserted gang. Many gangs, including foreign and transnational gangs, hold that the only way to leave the gang is through death. This is sometimes informally called the "morgue rule". Gang membership represents the phenomenon of a chronic group
criminal spin Criminal spin is a phenomenology (psychology), phenomenological model in criminology, depicting the development of criminal behavior. The model refers to those types of behavior that start out as something small and innocent, without malicious or c ...
; accordingly, the criminality of members is greater when they belong to the gang than when they are not in the gang—either before or after being in the gang. In addition, when together, the gang criminality as a whole is greater than that of its members when they are alone. The gang operates as a whole greater than its parts and influences the behavior of its members in the direction of greater extend and stronger degree of criminality. Some states have a formal process to establish that a person is a member of a gang, called validation. Once a person is validated as a gang member, the person is subject to increased sentences, harsher punishments (such as solitary confinement) and more restrictive parole rules. To validate a person as a gang member, the officials generally must provide evidence of several factors, such as tattoos, photographs, admissions, clothing, etc. The legal requirements for validating a person are much lower than the requirements for convicting of a crime.


Non-member women in gang culture

Women associated with gangs but who lack membership are typically categorized based on their relation to gang members. A survey of Mexican American gang members and associates defined these categories as girlfriends, hoodrats, good girls, and relatives.Valdez, A. (2007). Mexican American Girls and Gang Violence. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Girlfriends are long-term partners of male gang members, and may have children with them. " Hoodrats" are seen as being promiscuous and heavy drug and alcohol users. Gang members may engage in casual sex with these girls, but they are not viewed as potential long-term partners and are severely stigmatized by both men and women in gang culture. "Good girls" are long-term friends of members, often from childhood, and relatives are typically sisters or cousins. These are fluid categories, and women often change status as they move between them. Valdez found that women with ties to gang members are often used to hold illegal weapons and drugs, typically, because members believe the girls are less likely to be searched by police for such items.


Initiation

Different gangs from around the world have their way of recruiting and introducing new members. Most criminal gangs require an interested candidate to commit a crime to be inducted into a gang.Maryland gang
Associated Gangs in this county
.
Many street gangs, like the Bloods and
MS-13 Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13, is an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles Los Angeles (; es, Los Ángeles; "The Angels"), officially the City of Los Angeles and often abbreviated as L.A., is the List ...
, have a ritual where they would beat up (also known as "beat-in" or "jump-in") aspiring applicants for several seconds to show their toughness, willingness, and loyalty. Some of these gangs allow women to become members either through being jumped-in or having sex with male members (known as "sexed-in"). Biker gangs like the
Hells Angels The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson Harley-Davidson, Inc., H-D, or Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, W ...
require a candidate, known as a "hang-around", to be observed and mentored by veteran gang members (which can last to a year or more) in order to assess their personalities and commitment. The
Cosa Nostra The Sicilian Mafia, also simply known as the Mafia and frequently referred to as La Cosa Nostra (, ; "our thing") by its members, is an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, ...
require people wanting to be full members or a made men to take part in a
ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious ...
involving oaths, agreement, and bloodletting to show their loyalty.Gambetta, ''The Sicilian Mafia'', pp. 146-53 The Sigue-Sigue Sputnik from the Philippines require gang members to tatoo (or "tatak") the name of the gang or their leader into their body. July 25, 2007 Triads have a more unique way of initiating associates into full members. Triad ceremonies take place at an altar dedicated to
Guan Yu Guan Yu (; died January or February 220), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sph ...

Guan Yu
(關羽, GuānYǔ), with incense and an
animal sacrifice Animal sacrifice is the ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious comm ...
(usually a chicken, pig or goat). After drinking a mixture of wine and blood (from the animal or the candidate), the member passes beneath an arch of swords while reciting the triad's oaths. The paper on which the oaths are written will be burnt on the altar to confirm the member's obligation to perform his duties to the gods. Three fingers of the left hand are raised as a binding gesture. The triad initiate is required to adhere to 36 oaths.


Typical activities

The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
estimates that gangs make most of their money through the drugs trade, which is thought to be worth $352 billion in total. The
United States Department of Justice The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) o ...
estimates there are approximately 30,000 gangs, with 760,000 members, impacting 2,500 communities across the United States. Gangs are involved in all areas of street-crime activities like
extortion Extortion is the practice of obtaining benefit through coercion Coercion () is compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threat A threat is a communication of intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. Intimid ...
, drug trafficking,
both in and outside the prison system, and
theft Theft is the taking of another person's property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of pr ...

theft
. Gangs also victimize individuals by
robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a State (polity), state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farm ...

robbery
and
kidnapping In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
.
Cocaine Cocaine (from , from , ultimately from Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''kúka'') is a tropane alkaloid and stimulant drug obtained primarily from the leaves of two coca species native to South America, ''Erythroxylum coca'' and ''Erythroxylu ...

Cocaine
is the primary drug of distribution by gangs in America, which have used the cities
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
,
Cape Town Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad ; Xhosa language, Xhosa: ''iKapa;'') is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and also the legislative Capital city, capital of South Africa. Colloquially named the Mother City, it is ...

Cape Town
, and
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro (; ), or simply Rio, is the List of largest cities in Brazil, second-most populous city in Brazil and the Largest cities in the Americas, sixth-most populous in the Americas. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the Rio de Janeiro (s ...

Rio de Janeiro
to transport drugs internationally. Brazilian urbanization has driven the drug trade to the
favela A favela () is a type of slum A slum is a highly populated urban Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and ci ...

favela
s of Rio. Often, gangs hire "lookouts" to warn members of upcoming law enforcement. The dense environments of favelas in Rio and public housing projects in Chicago have helped gang members hide from police easily. Street gangs take over territory or "turf" in a particular city and are often involved in " providing protection", often a thin cover for extortion, as the "protection" is usually from the gang itself, or in other criminal activity. Many gangs use fronts to demonstrate influence and gain revenue in a particular area.


Gang violence

Gang violence refers mostly to the illegal and non-political acts of violence perpetrated by gangs against civilians, other gangs, law enforcement officers, firefighters, or military personnel. A gang war is a type of small war that occurs when two gangs end up in a feud over territory or vendetta. Gang warfare mostly consists of sanctioned and unsanctioned hits, street fighting, and gun violence. Modern gangs introduced new acts of violence, which may also function as a rite of passage for new gang members. In 2006, 58 percent of L.A.'s murders were gang-related. Reports of gang-related homicides are concentrated mostly in the largest cities in the United States, where there are long-standing and persistent gang problems and a greater number of documented gang members—most of whom are identified by law enforcement. Gang-related activity and violence has increased along the U.S. Southwest border region, as US-based gangs act as enforcers for Mexican
drug cartel A drug cartel is any criminal organization Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for profit. While organized ...
s.FBI — 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends
Fbi.gov.


Gang violence in schools

Despite gangs usually formed in the
community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense of place (geography), plac ...

community
, not specifically in
school A school is an educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education, including preschools, childcare, primary-elementary schools, secondary-high schools, and universities. They p ...

school
s, gang violence can potentially affect schools in different ways including: * Gangs can recruit members in schools; * Gang members from the same school can engage in
violence Violence is the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy. Other definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations ...

violence
on the school premises or around their school; * Gang members from the same school can commit violence against other students in the same school who belong to a different gang or who do not belong to a gang; * Gangs may commit violence against other schools and students in the community where they are active, even if these students do not belong to a gang. Global data on the prevalence of these different forms of gang violence in and around schools is limited. However, available evidence suggests that gang violence is more common in schools where students are exposed to other forms of community violence and where they
fear Fear is an intensely unpleasant emotion Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent with a pr ...

fear
violence at school.
Child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human being between the stages of childbirth, birth and puberty, or between the Development of the human body, developmental period of infancy and puberty. The legal definition of ''child'' generall ...

Child
ren who grow up in neighbourhoods with high levels of
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

crime
has been identified as a risk factor for youth violence, including gang violence. According to studies, children who knew many adult
criminals In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a State (polity), state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, defin ...
were more likely to engage in violent behaviour by the age of 18 years than those who did not. Gang violence is often associated with carrying
weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of activities such as hunting, crime, law enforcement, self-defe ...
s, including in school. A study of 10–19-year-olds in the UK found that 44% of those who reported belonging to a delinquent youth group had committed violence and 13% had carried a knife in the previous 12 months versus 17% and 4% respectively among those who were not in such a group. According to a meta-analysis of 14 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific also showed that carrying a weapon at school is associated with
bullying upright=1.3, Banner in a campaign against bullying at Cefet-MG Bullying is the use of force, coercion Coercion () is compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threat A threat is a ''communicated'' intent to inflict ...

bullying
victimization Victimisation (American and British English spelling differences#-ise.2C -ize .28-isation.2C -ization.29, or victimization) is the process of being victimised or becoming a wikt:victim, victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, ...
. Comparison of Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) data on
school violence School violence encompasses physical violence, including student-on-student fighting and corporal punishment; Psychological abuse, psychological violence, including verbal abuse; sexual violence, including rape and sexual harassment; many forms of b ...
and
bullying upright=1.3, Banner in a campaign against bullying at Cefet-MG Bullying is the use of force, coercion Coercion () is compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threat A threat is a ''communicated'' intent to inflict ...

bullying
for countries that are particularly affected by gang violence suggests that the links may be limited. In El Salvador and Guatemala, for example, where gang violence is a serious problem, GSHS data show that the prevalence of bullying, physical fights and physical attacks reported by school students is relatively low, and is similar to prevalence in other countries in Central America where gang violence is less prevalent.


Sexual violence

Women in gang culture are often in environments where sexual assault is common and considered to be a norm. Women who attend social gatherings and parties with heavy drug and alcohol use are particularly likely to be assaulted. A girl who becomes intoxicated and flirts with men is often seen as "asking for it" and is written off as a "hoe" by men and women. "Hoodrats" and girls associated with rival gangs have lower status at these social events, and are victimized when members view them as fair game and other women rationalize assault against them.


Motives

Most modern research on gangs has focused on the thesis of
class struggle Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class warfare, is the political tension and economic antagonism that exists in society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, socia ...
following the work of Walter B. Miller and Irving Spergel. In this body of work Chicago Gaylords, The Gaylords are cited as the prime example of an American gang that is neither Black nor Hispanic. Some researchers have focused on ethnic factors. Frederic Thrasher, who was a pioneer of gang research, identified "demoralization" as a standard characteristic of gangs. John Hagedorn has argued that this is one of three concepts that shed light on patterns of organization in oppressed racial, religious and ethnic groups (the other two are Manuel Castells' theory of "resistance identity and Derrick Bell's work on the permanence of racism). Ancestral tribalism and control of women is the main motivator. Usually, gangs have gained the most control in poorer, urban communities and developing countries in response to unemployment and other services. Social disorganization, and the disintegration of societal institutions such as family, school, and the public safety net, enable groups of peers to form gangs. According to surveys conducted internationally by the World Bank for their The World Development Report 2011, World Development Report 2011, by far the most common reason people suggest as a motive for joining gangs is unemployment. Ethnic solidarity is a common factor in gangs. Black and Hispanic gangs formed during the 1960s in the USA often adapted nationalist rhetoric. Both majority and minority races in society have established gangs in the name of identity: the Igbo people, Igbo gang Bakassi Boys in Nigeria defend the majority Igbo group violently and through terror, and in the United States, whites who feel threatened by minorities have formed their own gangs, such as the Ku Klux Klan. Responding to an increasing black and Hispanic migration, a white gang formed called Chicago Gaylords. Some gang members are motivated by religion, as is the case with the Muslim Patrol and the Epstein-Wolmark gang.


Identification

Most gang members have Gang signals, identifying characteristics which are unique to their specific clique or gang. The
Bloods The Bloods are a primarily African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person ...
, for instance, wear red bandanas, the
Crips The Crips is an alliance of street gang, gangs which is based in the Coastal California, coastal regions of southern California. It was founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1969, mainly by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. Once a sing ...
blue, allowing these gangs to "represent" their affiliation. Any disrespect of a gang member's color by an unaffiliated individual is regarded as grounds for violent retaliation, often by multiple members of the offended gang. Tattoos are also common identifiers, such as an '18' above the eyebrow to identify a member of the 18th Street (gang), 18th Street gang. Tattoos help a gang member gain respect within their group, and mark them as members for life. Tattoos can also represent the level they are in the gang, being that certain tattoos can mean they are a more accomplished member. The accomplishments can be related to doing an dangerous act that showed your loyalty to the gang. They can be burned on as well as inked. Some gangs make use of more than one identifier, like the Nortenos, who wear red bandanas and have "14", "XIV", "x4", and "Norte" tattoos. Some members of criminal gang (disambiguation), criminal gangs are Initiation#Gang, "jumped in" (by going through a process of initiation), or have to prove their loyalty and right to belong by committing certain acts, usually theft or violence. Gangs often establish distinctive, characteristic identifiers including graffiti tags Gang colors, colors, Gang signal#Hand signs, hand signals, clothing (for example, the gangsta rap-type hoodies), jewelry, hair styles, fingernails, slogans, signs (such as the noose and the burning cross as the symbols of the Klan), flags secret greetings, Pejorative, slurs, or code words and other group-specific symbols associated with the gang's common beliefs, rituals, and mythologies to define and differentiate themselves from other groups and gangs. As an alternative language, hand-signals, symbols, and slurs in speech, graffiti, print, music, or other mediums communicate specific informational cues used to threaten, disparage, taunt, harass, intimidate, alarm, influence, or exact specific responses including obedience, submission, fear, or terror. One study focused on terrorism and symbols states that "[s]ymbolism is important because it plays a part in impelling the terrorist to act and then in defining the targets of their actions." Displaying a gang sign, such as the noose, as a symbolic act can be construed as "a threat to commit
violence Violence is the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy. Other definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations ...

violence
communicated with the intent to terrorize another, to cause evacuation of a building, or to cause serious public inconvenience, in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience … an offense against property or involving danger to another person that may include but is not limited to recklessly endangering another person, harassment, stalking, ethnic intimidation, and criminal mischief." The Internet is one of the most significant media used by gangs to communicate in terms of the size of the audience they can reach with minimal effort and reduced risk. Social media provides a forum for recruitment activities, typically provoking rival gangs through derogatory postings, and to glorify their gang and themselves.Combating Gangsters Online
, Author: Matthew O'Deane, April 2011, pp. 1-7, Publisher: Federal Bureau of Investigation


US Debate surrounding impact

Researchers and activists in the United States have debated the true impact of US gangs on crime in the United States, with a 2019 episode of the You're Wrong About podcast claiming that the perceived increase in gang violence was in fact an overblown moral panic. There have been repeated complaints of bias around the enforcement of gang-related laws asking why Frats and Gangs are treated differently "They’re both blamed for predisposing their members to violent acts, but they’ve sparked radically different public-policy responses." Activists have also made the link between a perceived increase in gang activity and the sharp rise in US police budgets while pointing out rampant corruption in police gang units, such as the Rampart scandal in the Los Angeles Police Force.


UK Debate surrounding impact

In the Gangs in the United Kingdom, UK context, law enforcement agencies are increasingly focusing enforcement efforts on gangs and gang membership. However debate persists over the extent and nature of gang activity in the UK, with some academics and policy-makers arguing that the current focus is inadvisable, given a lack of consensus over the relationship between gangs and crime. The Runnymede Trust suggests that, despite the well-rehearsed public discourse around youth gangs and "gang culture", "We actually know very little about 'gangs' in the UK: about how 'a gang' might be defined or understood, about what being in 'a gang' means ... We know still less about how 'the gang' links to levels of youth violence." Professor Simon Hallsworth argues that, where they exist, gangs in the UK are "far more fluid, volatile and amorphous than the myth of the organized group with a corporate structure". This assertion is supported by a field study conducted by Manchester University, which found that "most within- and between-gang disputes ... emanated from interpersonal disputes regarding friends, family and romantic relationships", as opposed to territorial rivalries, and that criminal enterprises were "rarely gang-coordinated ... most involved gang members operating as individuals or in small groups." Cottrell-Boyce, writing in the ''Youth Justice'' journal, argues that gangs have been constructed as a "suitable enemy" by politicians and the media, obscuring the wider, structural roots of youth violence. At the level of enforcement, a focus on gang membership may be counterproductive; creating confusion and resulting in a drag-net approach which can criminalise innocent young people rather than focusing resources on serious violent crime.


Gang membership in the US military

Gang members in uniform use their military knowledge, skills and weapons to commit and facilitate various crimes. As of April 2011, the National Ground Intelligence Center, NGIC has identified members of at least 53 gangs whose members have served in or are affiliated with US military. In 2006, Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, said there is an online network of gangs and extremists: "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military." A 2006 Sun-Times article reports that gangs encourage members to enter the military to learn urban warfare techniques to teach other gang members. A January 2007 article in the ''Chicago Sun-Times'' reported that gang members in the military are involved in the theft and sale of military weapons, ammunition, and equipment, including body armor. The ''Sun-Times'' began investigating the gang activity in the military after receiving photos of gang graffiti showing up in Iraq. The FBI's 2007 report on gang membership in the military states that the military's recruit screening process is ineffective, allows gang members/extremists to enter the military, and lists at least eight instances in the last three years in which gang members have obtained military weapons for their illegal enterprises. ''"Gang Activity in the U.S. Armed Forces Increasing"'', dated January 12, 2007, states that street gangs including the Bloods, Crips, Black Disciples,
Gangster Disciples The Gangster Disciples is a African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, black racial groups of Africa. ...

Gangster Disciples
, Hells Angels, Latin Kings (gang), Latin Kings, The 18th Street Gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Mexican Mafia, Norteños,
Sureños Sureños (; Spanish: ''Southerners'')‍, Southern United Raza, Sur 13 or Sureños X3 are groups of loosely affiliated gangs that pay tribute to the Mexican Mafia The Mexican Mafia (Spanish: ''Mafia Mexicana''), also known as La eMe (Spanish f ...
, and Vice Lords have been documented on military installations both domestic and international although recruiting gang members violates military regulations.Intelligence Assessment
- Gang-Related Activity in the US Armed Forces Increasing


See also


Sources


References


Bibliography

* * *Anon. 2018. “Gangs from Different Sociological Perspectives and Theories.” UKEssays.com. Retrieved October 30, 2019 ). *Collins, Angela M., Scott Menard and David Pyrooz. 2018. "Collective Behavior and the Generality of Integrated Theory: A National Study of Gang Fighting." Deviant Behavior 39(8):992-1005


External links

{{Authority control Gangs, Crime Criminology Urban decay Types of organization Group processes Organized crime Criminal subcultures Underground culture