Drugs and Gangs Fast Facts
The aim of this article is to reflect on the conceptual and methodological developments of our gang research over the past 20 years. We have conducted a large. Dec 18, What is the correlation between drugs and violence in organized crime? Gangs may be directly affiliated with the cartels, who do create the. criminal organizations and the role of firearms in gang violence. It is my hope that in describing the relationships among youth gangs, drugs, and violence, this.
AODR alcohol or other drug [AOD] related violence; gang; youth culture; juvenile delinquency; AOD use as a form of socializing; gender identity; male; group behavior; peer pressure; attitude toward AOD Social commentators have had a longstanding interest in and pre-occupation with youth groups and violence. Even in Victorian England in the late 19th century, commentators were preoccupied with the apparent escalation in disorder among young violent working-class youth gangs in the industrial cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester Daviesp.
Since then, the interest in gangs from a research perspective, as well as from a media and criminal justice standpoint, has periodically surfaced. The latest wave and, without a doubt, the peak of public concern over gangs began in the mids and has continued to the present. Spurred on by the media, law enforcement officials started to take a renewed interest in gangs because of their involvement in drug use and drug sales and because of the belief that gangs were the breeding ground for serious delinquency.
Gang researchers began to argue that a new type of youth gang had developed which was qualitatively different from gangs in earlier periods. In spite of the importance of drugs within the social life of gangs, the recent preoccupation of research on illicit drugs has overshadowed the importance of drinking within youth gangs and its possible relationship to violent behavior.
To date, little research has been done specifically on the role of alcohol within the social life of gangs, and consequently, it is a relatively unexplored area. This is in spite of the fact, as Fagan has noted, that alcohol is still the most widely used substance by both gang and nongang youth.
This absence of research on the role of alcohol within gang life is particularly striking in the available work on the violent behavior of gang members. Over the past decade, researchers and public health officials have become increasingly concerned with the increased involvement of youth in violent crime. The juvenile male arrest rate for violent crime offenses increased steadily during the first half of the s, peaking in with a rate ofand then beginning to drop, with an arrest rate of in Among females, the juvenile arrest rate for violent crime also has risen, peaking in at and then leveling off at in Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP] a.
Moving beyond the gang–drug–violence connection
Within this growing concern, considerable attention has focused on youth gangs as a key factor. As a result, public concern about the involvement of young people in gang activity, and the perceived violence associated with this lifestyle, has soared.
Violence is endemic to gang life. Violence within gang life includes both intragang violence--for example, ritualistically violent initiations Vigil and Long --and intergang violence--for example, turf battles Sanchez-Jankowski In order to explain the daily occurrence of violence within the social life of gangs, both researchers and criminal justice officials have tended to focus their recent attention on the role of illicit drugs as a crucial explanatory factor Fagan ; Klein and Maxson ; Moore ; Reiss and Roth This preoccupation with gangs and drug-related violence has tended to overshadow the significant role of alcohol in gang life and its possible relationship with violent behavior.
In the same way that violent behavior is a common currency within gang life, so also is drinking. Although few researchers have looked specifically at the role of alcohol within the social life of gangs, some gang researchers have noted that drinking is a major component of the social life of gangs and a commonplace activity Fagan ; Hagedorn ; Moore ; Padilla ; Vigil and Long Therefore, given the extent to which drinking has been implicated in a wide range of interpersonal violence Parker ; Pernanen ; White et al.
This article examines the arenas in which drinking is present in the life of gangs and reviews existing literature on the situations and contexts in which drinking is associated with violent behavior. Alcohol and Gang Life To understand the role of alcohol in the lives of gang members, we must begin our analysis by considering the characteristics and dynamics of street life. As many researchers have noted, being on the streets is a natural and legitimized social arena for many working-class, minority male adolescents.
The entry to life on the street is through a street gang. The gang epitomizes masculinity and ensures male bonding. Working-class, minority gang members can gain respect through their ability to fight Anderson Not only must they be prepared to defend themselves and their fellow gang members, they also must be prepared to defend the reputation of their gang. Given the masculine culture of street life, what role does alcohol play?
During most of these activities, drinking is endemic, and the consumption of alcohol occurs continually through-out the course of everyday social activities.
Partying Partying is a focal event in the life of gang members in which binge drinking is an integral component Moore ; Moore et al. Sometimes private parties are arranged formally, organized either for celebrations or, on some occasions, for grieving. Like hanging out, partying also operates to maintain and enhance the cohesion of the group Moore Symbolic Drinking Drinking works in several symbolic ways in the gang.
Because drinking is an integral and regular part of socializing within gang life, as the table illustrates, drinking works as a social lubricant, or social glue, to maintain not only the cohesion and social solidarity of the gang but also to affirm masculinity and male togetherness Dunning et al.
Comparisons across the different ethnic gangs, however, suggest that drinking affirms masculinity in culturally defined ways.
In this subculture, occasional drinking is the norm MacLeod in both public and private settings. Gangs use graffiti and "tagging" to mark that turf and to send news and messages to other gangs and gang members. Young women have their own gangs, and fights between female gangs are common.
In some gangs females fight alongside males. For many street gangs, drug selling has become a major means of making money. A few gangs have ties to adult organized crime groups.
Drug and Alcohol Use among Youth Gangs As with the general population of youths, alcohol and marijuana are the two most widely used substances among gang members.
Researchers have studied patterns of alcohol and drug abuse among gangs.
Gangs and Drugs
In general, gangs use gang proceeds to buy alcohol and drugs for the group. White gang members have high rates of drinking, but black gang members drink beer only occasionally. Irish gangs rarely use illicit drugs because they reject doing business with nonwhites who control access to drugs. A study of Chicano gang members in East Los Angeles showed that through drug use—mainly alcohol, marijuana, phencyclidine PCPand crack cocaine—a gang member can achieve social status and acceptance. Gang members prepared for fights with other gangs by drinking and smoking PCP-laced cigarettes.
During social gatherings, the gang members used the same combinations to "kick back" and feel more relaxed among one another. Gang members understood the effects of combining alcohol and PCP and had developed ways to achieve certain moods and behaviors.
There is a sanction against heroin use among Chicano gangs. Heroin involvement is seen as a betrayal of the gang and the barrio, or neighborhood. Chicano gangs share a belief that members cannot be loyal to their gang while also tied to an addiction and the culture surrounding it. Studies of Latino gangs in San Francisco demonstrate three styles of drug involvement.
The "fighting" style involves violent acts meant to prove one's loyalty to the gang and claim territory and also to obtain money and drugs. The "entrepreneurial" style involves youths who want to attain social status by means of money and the things money can buy. Members of gangs of this style are very often active in small-scale illegal sales of marijuana, pill amphetamines, and PCP. In the third style, gang activities are social and recreational, with little or no evidence of fighting or violence but high rates of drinking and marijuana use.
Alcohol and Violence in the Lives of Gang Members
A study of a Puerto Rican gang in Chicago describes how alcohol and marijuana often accompany rituals of induction and expulsion of gang members. These ceremonies often are tearful and emotional, calling up feelings of ethnic solidarity.
Drinking is a continuous process during these events.Kurdish And Turkish Gangs In London Drug Wars
By contrast, Chinese gangs in New York City do not allow drinking or drug use. Violence in these gangs is mainly in attacks on other gangs for the purpose of protecting business territories and forcing victims to take part in the gang's ventures.
Moving beyond the gang–drug–violence connection
In Detroit, organizations of adolescent drug sellers prohibit drug use among their members but tolerate drinking. Leaders in these groups want to keep the business running smoothly and securely. If dealers on the street are high, that might hurt their selling skills. Breaking the rule on drug use results in expulsion from the gang or violent acts of punishment. The gangs permit the use of substances, mainly alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, in social situations separate from dealing.
Gangs and Drug Selling A survey of gangs across the United States found that an estimated 46 percent of all gang members are involved in drug selling, mostly to make money for the gang. The survey also found that the percentage of gangs organized specifically to sell drugs increased to 40 percent in The number of these drug gangs differs depending on region. In the late s, the numbers of drug gangs grew in rural, suburban, small, and large cities, but the biggest increases were seen in the rural and suburban areas.
The involvement of gangs in the drug trade varies by locale and ethnicity. Chicano gangs in Los Angeles do not sell cocaine but sell small quantities of other drugs. The crack and cocaine trades are dominated by African-American youths who may or may not be gang members. Crack sales began in Chicago more than five years after Los Angeles gangs began selling drugs. As in Los Angeles, both gang and non-gang youths are involved. Crack sales in New York flourished beginning inbut there was little evidence of an organized street gang structure that participated in drug selling.
Instead, crews of sellers provided an organizational structure for drug sales. The growth in cocaine use in the s coincided with increased gang involvement in drug selling and drug-related violence. In one of the largest studies on this subject, a researcher interviewed 1, youths in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Nearly one-third of the gang members interviewed reported that they were selling drugs, in contrast with fewer than 8 percent of the youths not in gangs. Gang sales of heroin rose in the s, particularly by Latino gangs in the western and south- western United States.
Urban gangs typically do not sell methamphetamines, or "speed," despite the rise in popularity of this drug throughout the s and into the twenty-first century.
The main reason for this is that crank can be made simply, with relatively easy- to-obtain ingredients. Specialized suppliers such as gangs cannot make as much of a profit on crank, compared to other illicit drugs.
Chinese gangs have remained outside the cocaine and crack trades. However, some members but not entire gangs themselves have been involved in transporting or guarding heroin shipments from Asia. Other Asian ethnic groups, such as the Vietnamese, have moved into parts of the drug trade in cities like Los Angeles and New York, often working for more established Chinese gangs in these regions. Not all gang members sell drugs.
There appears to be some choice as to whether a gang member becomes involved in drug sales, even within gangs where drug selling is common.
Drug-selling cliques within gangs are responsible for gang drug sales. These cliques are organized around gang members who have contacts with drug whole- salers or importers.
- Drug and Alcohol Use among Youth Gangs
- Gangs and Drugs
Among the Diamonds gang in Chicago, drug selling is a high-status role reserved for gang members who have succeeded at more basic tasks, such as theft.