Street gangs in America:
Street gangs are the new big problem of organized crime in America. Gangs started out as a minor nuisance to society, but they have become to a massive crime force in America. They account for much of America’s violence as well as trafficking drugs throughout the states (Drugs and Gangs). If they are not taken care of soon, they will get out of hand. Street gangs in America are growing in size due to increases in poverty as well as the influence of peer pressure, and they are becoming increasingly violent because of gang wars and drug trafficking.
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The old street gangs were very different from the modern day gangs. In early street gangs groups of kids, usually poor children would come together for support (Gardner, 19). These groups would spend a lot of time together and get into trouble with the law, but they were not dangerous to innocent bystanders, and did not pose a threat to America (20). These groups would gather to talk, insult and make fun of each other jokingly, and shoot hoops at the park (20). Modern street gangs are changing into profit driven groups that traffic drugs throughout the nation and are committed to violence. Modern gangs are much larger having about 731,000 active gang members (Organized Gangs). National street gangs pose the greatest threat of all because they smuggle, produce, transport, and distribute large quantities of illegal drugs throughout the country and are extremely violent.
Early gangs were not very organized, modern day gangs are very organized. Modern gangs have ranking system that they follow. Gang activity rises and falls periodically and the ranks of members are determined by who has recently been arrested or killed (Stewart 31). The core of the gang is made up of the “hard-core” members. These are the members that are actually committing the bad crimes and will probably be in the gang for the rest of their life. The rest of the gang is made up of “ wanna-be” members. These members are either not really part of the gang or have not committed any initiation crimes to become a part of the gang. In today’s gangs teens as old as nine or ten can be a part of drug trafficking, all they have to do is hand over the little bag and hold on to the money until an overseer comes and grabs the money (“Drugs and Gangs”).
Although some gangs have leaders, many do not. Typically, gangs with leaders are not very well organized because most of the time gang crimes are nearly all carried out on impulse (Gardner 21). Some national street gangs are very organized, with as many as 100,000 members and associates. The most highly organized gangs, such as Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples, and Vice Lords, Bloods and the Crips have centralized leadership cores (“organized gangs”). Usually there is little forethought when it comes to gang crime and violence because most gang crime occurs when two rival gangs encounter each other, no matter where they are or what they are doing. Most gangs will have different rankings. For example, an O.G or Original Gangster will usually teach the younger members how stuff works before they take their spot. Gang hierarchy is followed by nearly every gang.
Street gangs have increased in size because of the bad economy in America. There are roughly 21,500 gangs in America and more than 731,000 active gang members (“Organized gangs”). The poor state of the economy is causing many people to lose their jobs, and forcing more Americas into poverty. People who are faced with a lack of money may turn to crime if they can’t earn enough with a real job. This partly explains why gangs exist in poor, areas of cities. Although not everyone who decides to joins a gang is poor, and not every gang member is poor (Gardner 51). While poverty does draw much of America’s youth to gangs there is still many poor teens who are not in gangs. Siblings in gangs have a strong influence for their brothers or sisters along with teens to join and become a member of their street gangs. Gangs also provide a way to make money, and sometimes lots of it. Poverty is one of the main reason teens and young adults get pulled into joining street gangs.
Although poverty does attract many youth to gangs, peer pressure is also a big factor. There is peer pressure in every teen’s life. A lot of gang members are very young, gangs intentionally recruit teenagers (Gardner 41). They do this because no matter what kind of trouble a teen gets into they cannot go to jail for their crime. Some young teenagers may join gangs to earn respect from others (Osman 36). Most teens that live in parts of a city with gang presence usually have friends that are in at least one gang. Those friends will pressure the teen into joining their gang. Often youth will get harassed or “beat up” until they accept and join the gang (37). Another reason teens may end up joining a gang is for protection (33). But joining a gang often brings bigger threat because are vulnerable to getting attacked by a rival gang. Gang influence in schools is also a big problem, if they youth goes to a school with a strong gang presence, they might find that many of their friends are joining gangs and follow them (“a reputation for being tough and a good fighter is important for many kids” (Gardner 41). About twenty-eight percent of schools have reported street gang presence in their school (Drugs and Gangs). Gang presence in schools is just another factor that pushes teens to join gangs. “Resisting peer pressure as every teenager knows is tough”. You have to have a high self esteem, strong motivation and a good support system (Gardner, 30).
As gangs increase in popularity, gang violence does to. Gang violence is rising due to availability of new guns and cars. Gang members are now getting their hands on AK-47’s, Submachine guns, M 16’s, Uzi’s, and semi automatic pistols. Sgt. Joe Guzman, a sheriff gang expert told the Los Angeles times “Today instead of brawling, it’s all about the fire power and taking people out” (qtd. in Osman 55). This is because in the past gang fights would be a brawl of twenty to thirty using just fists. These modern day guns are way more effective and dangerous than guns in the past, these guns kill much quicker with even a single bullet can end someone’s life. Any gang member can easily hide a gun while walking on the street, quickly pull it out and kill someone within seconds. Guns are one of the leading reasons why gang violence is increasing.
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Having more than one gang in a city is also a major cause for gang violence. Because gangs have their territories or turf even living around a certain area is enough to get attacked, robbed, or even killed (Gardner 13). Gang territories are marked by crews.” Crews claim they are non violent, but they mark their turf with graffiti encouraging vandalism and gang violence over the turf” (street gangs in America 60). When more the one gang is present in a single city or area, there is bound to be a rise in crime in the area. The Los Angeles Crips and their enemies the Bloods are famous their rivalry and fighting over turf with each other (Gardner 40).
On top of the acts of violence, street gangs are now seeking profit by dealing illegal durgs throughout America. Many gangs that started as turf gangs are now evolving into money making criminal organization whose activities include not just drugs but, smuggling, transportation, and wholesale distribution of the illegal drugs (“Organized gangs”). “Large, nationally affiliated street gangs pose the greatest threat because they smuggle, produce, transport, and distribute large quantities of illegal drugs throughout the country and are extremely violent” (Drugs and Gangs). “About 3.5 million individuals age 18 and older have admitted to having injected an illegal drug during their lifetime. Of these individuals, 14 percent or (498,000) were under the age of 25” (National Drug Intelligence Center). Gangs convert cocaine into crack cocaine and make almost all the PCP in America. Some gangs make millions per month selling illegal drugs, distributing weapons, operating prostitute businesses, and selling stolen property (Drugs and Gangs). Street gangs have now moved to new areas, specifically rural and suburban areas, to avoid the police and get new customers (“Organized Gangs”). Profit driven gangs relentlessly traffic drugs throughout America, and they will use violence without a second thought to continue their operation.
There are also Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) outside of America that are distributing drugs into the United States. Mexican Drug trafficking organizations are one of the biggest problems of why there is such a large amount of drugs in America. Street gangs in America are seeking to establish connections with Mexican DTOs to expand their drug trafficking organizations (“Organized Gangs”). Mexican DTOs and criminal groups exhibit far greater influence over drug trafficking in the United States than any other group, and their influence is increasing, particularly with respect to cocaine and methamphetamine distribution (“Organized gangs”). Many gangs have developed or relationships now with nationwide criminal organizations and DTOs. These relationships provide gangs with access to much more illegal drugs then the gangs can get their hands on in just the United States alone (“National Level”). Most of the illegal drugs come from out of the country, but still find their way into America. The threat posed by gangs will increase as gangs become better structured; more sophisticated, and develop their markets. This threat is magnified by the high and increasing level of violence associated with expansion of drug trafficking activities by gang.
Street gangs in America are growing in size due to the increase in poverty as well as the influence of peer pressure and these gangs are becoming increasingly violent because of gang wars and drug trafficking. Gangs are growing in size and their use of violence becoming a much bigger problem. These gangs constantly distribute drugs through the states around the country and are getting more and more youths addicted too these illegal substances. If gangs are not dealt with and stopped soon they will get way out of hand. Americans must realize what gangs are doing to the country and our youth. The modern street gang problem must be solved so that America can live in peace and knowing that the youth will be safe from street gangs.
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