Gangs And Drugs (Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior)
Youth gangs have been part of the U.S. urban landscape for over 200 years. From the earliest mentions of gangs in the social commentaries of post-Revolutionary War America, gangs have been linked to the use and trafficking of illicit intoxicants. In the late eighteenth century, for example, gangs such as the Fly Boys, the Smith's Vly gang, and the Bowery Boys were well known in the streets of New York City (Sante, 1991). As European immigration increased in the early nineteenth century, gangs such as the Kerryonians (from County Kerry in Ireland) and the Forty Thieves formed in the overcrowded slums of the Lower East Side (of New York City). Gangs proliferated quickly in that time, with such colorful names as the Plug Uglies, the Roach Guards, the Hide-Binders (comprised mainly of butchers), the Old Slippers (a group of shoemakers' apprentices) and the Shirt Tails. Many of these gangs were born in the corner groceries that were the business and social center of the neighborhoods. These groceries also hid the groggeries that were important features of neighborhood life, and guarding them provided a steady income for the gangs. Although not involved in theft, robbery, or the unsavory professions of GAMBLING or tavern-keeping, these gangs warred regularly over territory with weaponsncluding stones and early versions of the blackjack. They occasionally joined forces to defend their neighborhood, and nearly all were united in their opposition to the police.
Throughout the nineteenth century, gangs emerged in the large cities of the Northeast, in Chicago and in other industrial centers of the Midwest. In the early twentieth century, gangs also formed in the Mexican immigrant communities of California and the Southwest. In what still is widely regarded as the classic work on youth gangs, Thrasher (1927) identified over 1,300 street gangs in the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of industrial Chicago in the 1920s. He interpreted the rise of Chicago's gangs as symptoms of deteriorating neighborhoods and the shifting populations that accompanied industrialization and the changing populations that lived in the interstitial areas between the central city and the industrial regions that ringed it. Wherever neighborhoods in large cities were in transition, gangs emerged, and their involvement in drinking and minor drug use was a regular feature of gang life.
In the 1990s, gangs became present in large and small cities in nearly every state. They reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of American society (Klein, 1992). Gangs are no longer colorful, turf-oriented groups of adolescents from immigrant or poor neighborhoods. Whereas gangs in the past were likely to claim streetcorners as their turf, gangs today may invoke the concept of turf to stake claims to shopping malls, skating rinks, school corridors, or even cliques of women. Gangs use graffiti and "tagging" to mark turf and communicate news and messages to other gangs and gang members (Huff, 1989). The participation and roles of young women in gangs has also changed. Through the 1960s, women were involved in gangs either as auxiliaries or branches of males gangs, or they were weapons carriers and decoys for male gang members. Today, female gangs have emerged that are independent of male gangs. Fights are common between the new female gangs. There also is some evidence of sexually integrated gangs, where females fight alongside males (Taylor, 1993).
Traditionally, stealing and other petty economic crimes have long been the backbone of gang economic life. For example, Saint Francis of Assisi commented that nothing gave him greater pleasure than stealing in the company of his friends. English common law in the 13th century accorded especially harsh punishments to the roving bands of youths who moved across the countryside stealing from farmers and merchants. The House of Refuge, the first U.S. residential institution for boys, opened in New York City in 1824, largely in response to the unsupervised groups of youths who roamed the city stealing and drinking. For some contemporary gangs, however, entrepreneurial goals, especially involving drug selling, have replaced the cultural goals of ethnic solidarity and neighborhood defense that historically motivated gang participation and activities. A few gangs have functional ties to adult organized crime groups. Other gangs have become involved in drug selling and have developed a corporate structure that has replaced the vertical organization that in the past regulated gang life.
This article examines recent data on the drug and alcohol involvement of street gangs. Recent changes in the social structure of cities has led to a new generation of gangs and gang cities. We look to these changes in cities and neighborhoods to explain the new patterns of substance use and drug distribution among gangs. Changes in the conception of work, the institutionalization of drug selling, and cultural shifts in gangs and ganging, have influenced gang involvement in drugs and alcohol. This article discusses the relationship between political and economic factors that shape the social structure of communities, the neighborhood effects that result from those forces, and the mediating effects of neighborhood processes on the formation of gangs and their use of substances.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE AMONG YOUTH GANGS
ALCOHOL and MARIJUANA use have always been, and continue to be, the most widely used substances among both gang and non-gang youths (Fagan, 1989, 1990; Sheley, Smith, & Wright, 1992). Drinking and other drugs (primarily marijuana) consistently are mentioned as a common part of gang life throughout gang literature. For instance, Short and Strodtbeck's (1965) study of Chicago gangs showed that drinking was the second most common activity of gang members of all races, exceeded only by hanging out on the streetcorner. Although COCAINE may be trafficked by some gang members, it is not often used in either its powder or smokeable forms (Fagan, 1990).
Ethnographic studies of gang life (Hagedorn, 1988; Campbell, 1990; Stumphauzer, Veloz & Aiken, 1981; Vigil, 1988; Padilla, 1992; Moore, 1978, 1992a, 1992b; Taylor, 1993) also show the commonplace occurrence of drinking and its place in a broad pattern of substance use. Dolan and Finney (1984) and Campbell (1990) illustrated the commonplace role of drug use in gang life among both males and females. Stumphauzer et al. (1981) noted that use patterns varied within and among Los Angeles gangs, but changed for individuals over time. MacLeod (1987) noted high rates of drinking among white gang members but only occasional beer use among the Brothers, a predominantly black (but somewhat integrated) gang. Sanchez-Jankowski (1991) found that all members of all gangs drank regularly, using gang proceeds for collective purchases. Although they used drugs in varying patterns, alcohol was mentioned consistently. But Sanchez-Jankowski also mentioned that the Irish gangs least often used illicit drugs, since access was controlled by nonwhites with whom they did not want to engage in business.
Vigil (1985, 1988) described a variety of meanings and roles of substances among Chicano gang members in East Los Angeles, from social "lubricant" during times of collective relaxation to facilitator for observance of ritual behaviors such as locura acts of AGGRESSION or VIOLENCE. In these contexts, drug use provided a means of social status and acceptance, as well as mutual reinforcement, and was a natural social process of gang life. Vigil (1988) notes that these patterns are confined to substances that enhance gang social proccesseslcohol, marijuana, PHENCYCLIDINE (PCP), and CRACK-cocaine. There is a sanction against HEROIN use among Chicano gangs. Heroin involvement is seen as a betrayal of the gang and the barrio; one cannot be loyal to his addiction and the addict ("tecato") culture while maintaining loyalty to the gang. Vigil noted that gang members prepared for imminent 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. Evidently, gang members had substantial knowledge about the effects of alcohol (and its reactivity to PCP), and they had developed processes to adjust their reactions to the mood and behaviors they wanted.
Feldman el al. (1985) observed three distinct "styles" among Latino gangs in San Francisco that in part were determined by the role and meaning of substances in gang social processes. The "fighting" style included males in gangs who were antagonistic toward other gangs. They aggressively responded to any perceived move into their turf by other gangs or any outsider. Drinking and drug use were evident among these gangs, but this was only situationally related to their violence through territoriality. Violence occurred in many contexts unrelated to drug use or selling and was an important part of the social process of gang affiliation. The "entrepreneurial" style consisted of youths who were concerned with attaining social status by means of money and the things money can buy. They very often were active in small-scale illegal sales of marijuana, pill amphetamines, and PCP. While fighting and violence were part of this style, it was again situationally motivated by concerns over money or drugs. The last style was evident in gangs whose activities were social and recreational, with little or no evidence of fighting or violence but high rates of drinking and marijuana use.
Padilla's (1992) study of a Puerto Rican gang in Chicago described how alcohol and marijuana often accompanied the rituals of induction and expulsion of gang members. These ceremonies often were tearful and emotional, with strong references to ethnic solidarity. Padilla described how emotions intensified as the ceremony progressed, and drinking was a continuous process during the events.
Drinking or drug use also is disallowed in some youth gangs, regardless of the gang's involvement in drug selling. Chin (1990) found that intoxication was rejected entirely by Chineses gangs in New York City. Although they used violence to protect their business territories from encroachment by other gangs, and to coerce their victims to participate in the gang's ventures, "angry" violence was rare; violent transactions were limited to instrumental attacks on other gangs.
Taylor (1990a) and Mieczkowski (1986) described organizations of adolescent drug sellers in Detroit who prohibited drug use among their members but tolerated drinking. Leaders in these groups were wary of threats to efficiency and security if street-level sellers were high and to the potential for co-optation of its business goals if one of its members became involved with consumption of their goods. The gangs were organized around income and saw drug use (but not alcohol) as detracting from the selling skills and productivity of their members. Expulsion from the gang resulted from breaking this rule, but other violent reprisals also were possible. However, gangs in both studies accepted recreational use of substances by members, primarily alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine in social situations not involved with dealing.
In the Mieczkowski study, the sellers particularly found danger in being high on any drug while on the job. Gang superiors enforced the prohibition against heroin use while working by denying runners their consignment and, accordingly, shutting off their source of income. Violence was occasionally used by superiors (crew bosses) to enforce discipline. Gang members looked down on their heroin-using customers, despite having tried it at some point in their lives, which in part explains the general ideology of disapproval of heroin use.
Buford (1980) depicted crowd violence among English football (soccer) "supporters" as an inevitable consequence of the game's setting and the dynamics of crowds of youths. Expectancies of both intoxication and violence preceded the arrival of the "lads" at drinking locations surrounding the stadiums. The expectancies were played out in crowd behavior through rituals that were repeated before each match. Alcohol consumption before and during episodes of unrestrained crowd violence was an integral part of the group dynamic, but Buford does not attribute to alcohol an excuse function, nor is alcohol a necessary ingredient for the relaxation of social norms. In fact, he pointedly notes that the heaviest drinkers were incapacitated by inebriation and were ineffective rioters, while the crowd leaders were relatively light drinkers. In this context, alcohol was central but hardly necessary to the attainment of the expected behaviorhe setting itself provided the context and cues for violence.
GANGS AND DRUG SELLING
In the 1980s, the confluence of social problems involving gangs, violence, and drug trafficking changed both popular and political perceptions of gangs. Beginning with the crack-cocaine crisis, youth gangs have been confounded with new forms of drug distribution organizations that involve young men and women in "underclass" neighborhoods. This terminology has been interchangeably used to describe these groups as gangs. Indeed, the growth in cocaine use in the 1980s did coincide with more visible gang involvement in drug selling and drug-related violence (Huff, 1992). Although drug use and selling have been central features of gang life for decades, gangs were often blamed for many of the new drug problems (Newsweek, 1986; U.S. Department of Justice, 1989; Conley, 1992; Los Angeles County District Attorney, 1992). Once seen as streetcorner groups protecting "turf" and neighborhood, gangs were portrayed in the 1980s by the popular press and criminal-justice officials as nascent organized-crime groups focused on the distribution of drugs, with elaborate intercity networks well-financed by drug income.
Several trends contributed to this changing characterization of gangs. First, gangs became highly visible. Although gangs traditionally have been active in larger cities, gangs emerged in the 1980s in smaller citiesith populations as low as 25,000 (U.S. Department of Justice, 1989). Among the 100 largest U.S. cities, gangs have emerged in 42 cities since 1980 (Klein, 1992). Their recent emergence may belie their stability, however, since gangs are well known to often be temporary groupings with short half-lives (Spergel, 1989). The validity of police reports of gang activity itself remains a difficult measurement problem.
Second, gang violence has become more visible if not more prevalent. Gang-related homicides in Los Angeles grew sharply throughout the 1980s, exceeding 500 annually after 1989 (Los Angeles County District Attorney, 1992). In 1991, record homicide rates were set in both Los Angeles and Chicago, two cities with extensive youth-gang networks (FBI, 1992). Yet the classification of homicides as "gang-related" is quite sensitive to definitions; and this trend, too, may reflect anomalies in definition and measurement of gangs and gang incidents. Maxson and Klein (1989) showed that the Los Angeles Police Department rates, based on the gang affiliations of victims or perpetrators, could be halved by applying the motive-based definition used by the Chicago Police Department.
Third, gang involvement in drug trafficking reportedly grew in the 1980s (U.S. Department of Justice, 1989; Spergel, 1990; but see Moore, 1992a). Spergel (1990) found that 75 percent of gang members on probation in San Diego County were convicted of drug offenses at one time or another. Among the 1,200 youths in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego interviewed by Fagan (1990), 32 percent of the gang members reported they were involved in drug selling, compared to fewer than 8 percent of the nongang youths. Based on 45 interviews with California prison inmates Skolnick et al. (1989) claimed that linkages existed between prison gangs and street gangs around drug distribution. But Klein et al. (1991) showed that adolescent participation in rock-cocaine selling in Los Angeles grew equally for gang and nongang youths.
Drug selling also contributed to changes in the organization and meaning of gangs. Taylor (1990b) and Mieczkowski (1986) illustrated the transformation of Detroit gangs from streetcorner groups protecting territory to highly efficient drug-selling organizations. Padilla (1992) describes how Puerto Rican youths in a Chicago gang refocused the gang to drug dealing as the primary source of income. Hagedorn (1991) showed that twenty-two of thirty-seven African-American gang members in Milwaukee went on to become involved in adult drug organizations.
Fourth, reports of gang migration contributed to the perception of gangs as highly disciplined entrepreneurs intent on establishing intercity drug networks to expand their profits. Gang members are alleged to have set up "franchises" or branch offices in remote cities for selling drugs. Huff (1992) reports arrests of Los Angeles gang members in large and small Ohio cities and Detroit gang members in Cleveland (1989); members of Los Angeles gangs have been arrested on drug charges in cities as far east as Columbus (Ohio) (U.S. Department of Justice, 1989). This diffusion of gang activity from the major gang centers of Los Angeles and Chicago is often cited as a bellwether of the evolution of gangs to a new and more dangerous form.
The temporal proximity of these trends led to their confounding in the popular and sociological literatures, with hasty assumptions that they were causally linked. Few phenomena have been stereotyped as easily as gangs, violence, and drug use, especially in conjunction. These perceptions were amplified in the popular culture through movies and hip-hop music depicting gang life as a stew of violence, drug money, police repression, and the exploitation of women (Taylor, 1992). These perceptions were fueled by gang-related violence in the theaters at the opening of recent films depicting gang life (Colors, Boyz 'n the 'Hood), as well as reports of violence at rap concerts and in local clubs specializing in "house" and "hip-hop" music (Huff, 1992). These cultural vehicles falsely signaled a transformation of youth gangs from streetcorner groups to more sophisticated crime groups reaping great profits from drug distribution and specializing in lethal violence. In the context of the crack crisis of the mid-1980s and the violence that accompanied it, these portrayals also created a perception that there was an increase in gangsith more youths in gangs and more violent gangs in urban centers throughout the United States.
The 1980s' changes in drug-use trends, together with earlier changes in labor markets, income dynamics, and demographics in urban centers, suggest that the drug-gang nexus is part of a larger, more complex process of urban change tied to the economic and social transformation of cities. This was a significant era because of the sharp reduction in wholesale cocaine prices, the emergence of crack, and the expansion of street-level drug markets for cocaine and crack distribution (Fagan, 1992a). Reports from law-enforcement agencies suggest that by 1980 gangs formed in smaller cities not traditionally known as gang centers (Klein, 1992), and having little to do with drugs (Fagan & Klein, 1992). This was also an era marked by the emergence or persistent poverty in urban centers and the growth of an "urban underclass" (Wilson, 1987, 1991; Jargowsky & Bane, 1990; Ricketts & Sawhill, 1988; Jencks, 1991). In fact, the emergence of gangs in the 1980s was motivated by broad changes in economic and social conditions during the 1970s, changes that reflected deindustrialization and growing social and economic isolation in large U.S. cities (Jackson, 1991; Hagedorn, 1988; Sullivan, 1989; Fagan & Klein, 1992).
Despite the historically uneven relationship between gangs and drug use or selling (Klein, Maxson, & Cunningham, 1991; Spergel, 1989; Fagan, 1989), recent studies contend that the lucrative and decentralized crack markets in inner cities have created a new generation of youth gangs (Skolnick et al. 1989; Taylor, 1990b). Young drug sellers in these gangs have been portrayed as ruthless entrepreneurs, highly disciplined and coldly efficient in their business activities, and often using violence selectively and instrumentally in the service of profits. This vision of urban gangs suggests a sharp change from the gangs of past decades, and much of the change is attributed to the dynamics of the inexpensive, smokeable cocaine market.
The empirical data suggest otherwise (Fagan, 1989, 1990; Klein et al. 1991; Vigil, 1988; Padilla, 1992; Moore, 1992b; Hagedorn, 1988). Drug selling has always been a part of gang life, with diverse meanings tied to specific contexts and variable participation by gangs and gang members (Fagan, 1990). For example, Fagan (1989) found diverse patterns of drug selling within and across three cities with extensive, integenerational gang traditions, while Klein et al. (1992) reported variability within and across Los Angeles gangs in crack selling.
GANGS, DRUGS, AND NEIGHBORHOOD CHANGE
What are the changes that occurred in cities and communities to explain variation and change in gang participation in drug selling? Two factors have in particular contributed to changes in gangs and the substitution of instrumental and monetary goals for the cultural or territorial affinities that unified gangs in earlier decades. First, cocaine markets changed dramatically in the 1980s, with sharp price reductions. Before cocaine became widely available, drug distribution was centralized, with a small street-level network of heroin users responsible for retail sales (Curtis, 1992; Johnson et al., 1985). The heroin markets from the 1970s were smaller than the mid-1980s crack market, both in total volume of sales and the average purchase amount and quantity. Street-level drug selling in New York City, for example, was a family-centered heroin and marijuana business until the 1980s, when new organizations developed to control the distribution of cocaine (Curtis, 1992; Johnson et al., 1990). The psychoactive effects of HEROIN (a depressant) and its methods of administration (by injection) limited its sales volume and number of users.
Cocaine was different in every way stimulant rather than a depressant, ingested in a variety of ways (nasally, smoked, or injected), and with a shorter half-life for the "high." The price declined as cocaine became widely available, and the discontinuity in distribution systems across successive drug eras created new opportunities for drug selling, and may even have encouraged participation in it. The sudden change in cocaine marketing, from a restricted and controlled market in the 1970s to a fully deregulated market for crack, spawned intense competition for territory and market share (Fagan, 1992a; Williams, 1989). Law-enforcement officials in New York City characterized the crack industry as "capitalism gone mad" (New York Times, 1989).
In inner-city neighborhoods that since the 1970s had grown more socially isolated, and where legal economic activity was declining quickly, drug selling became a common form of labor market participation. Young men began to talk about drug selling and crime as "going to work" and the money earned as "getting paid" (Padilla, 1992; Sullivan, 1989). In the closed milieu of these neighborhoods, the tales of extraordinary incomes had great salience and were widely accepted, even if the likelihood of such riches was exaggerated (Bourgois, 1989; Reuter, MacCoun, & Murphy, 1990; Fagan, 1992a, 1992b). The focus of socialization and expectations shifted from disorganized groups of adult males to (what was perceived as) highly organized and increasingly wealthy young drug sellers. Many other sellers kept one foot in both licit and illicit work, lending ambiguity to definitions of work and income (Reuter et al., 1990; Fagan, 1992a, 1992b).
Second, profound changes in the social and economic makeup of cities (Tienda, 1989; Wacquant & Wilson, 1989) combined to disrupt social controls that in the past mediated gang behavior (Curry & Spergel, 1988). In this context, gangs became less concerned with cultural or territorial affinities and instead became focused on instrumental and monetary goals (Taylor, 1990; Padilla, 1992; but see Moore, 1992a). The interaction of these two trends provided ample opportunities for gangs to enter into the expanding cocaine economy of the 1980s.
As drug selling expanded into declining local labor markets, it became institutionalized within the local economies of the neighborhoods. Whether in storefronts, from behind the counters in bodegas (groceries), on streetcorners, in crack or "freak" houses, or through several types of "fronts," drug selling was a common and visible feature of the neighborhoods (Hamid, 1992). Young men and, increasingly, women had several employment options within drug marketsupport roles (lookout, steerer), manufacturing (cut, package), or direct street sales (Johnson et al., 1990). Legendary tales, often with little truth, circulated about how a few dollars' worth of cocaine could be turned into several thousand dollars within a short time. Such quick riches had incalculable appeal for people in chronic or desperate poverty.
THE IMPACT OF DRUGS ON GANGS AND GANG CULTURE
The transition from streetcorner group to ethnic enterprise profoundly shaped the social organization of youth gangs. Money became the driving force and organizing principle for these groups. Greed was elevated to a set of beliefs, expressed consistently among gangs and gang members in the neighborhoods with extensive drug markets (Padilla, 1992). The use of the language of work ("getting paid," "going to work") to describe drug selling signals an ideological shift in the social definition of work and the confounding of illegal and legal means of making money. For the young men using this language, there was no particular meaning assigned to drug selling: they pursued commodities that offered instrumental value as signs of wealth (Sullivan, 1989; Padilla, 1992). Any high-demand contraband consumable commodity would likely have inspired the same behavior (as for example weapons, guns).
Not surprisingly, "materialism" is evident in the motivations expressed by young people participating in drug sellinghe attainment of wealth as a manifestation of individual power and achievement. Within the isolated, concentrated poverty areas in inner cities, the absence of mediating social definitions allowed the pursuit of material wealth to become transformed into the very substance of societal bonds and conventional values. Americans always have looked up to the Horatio Algers, whose "self-made" business success defied social odds. As these models were elevated to societal icons, the attainment of wealth seemed to supersede the importance of law or the collective societal good (Wall Street Journal, 1989).
The interaction of drug selling, violence, and material goals often are combined in an emerging set of sociocultural processes within gangs. Padilla (1992) describes how older gang members reoriented the gangs to become business organizations to fuel increases that were disproportionately taken by the older members. In effect, the older members became local employers themselves. Since the older members were no longer the keepers of the culture and regulators of gang organization, they used traditional appeals to ethnic and neighborhood loyalties to recruit and motivate younger gang members. However, they added money incentives to the mix to strengthen their controls over young gang members.
The emphasis on money, individual gain, and quick wealth was so strong that gang members in Detroit (Taylor, 1990a) and Padilla's Chicago neighborhood themselves regarded low-level drug sellers, even their own "homeboys," as "working stiffs" who were being exploited by other gang members. In the past, such denigration of gang work was heretical: entry level jobs in the service of the gang typically would be seen as serving the gang's collective interest. Padilla describes how the new pattern of exploitation of lower-level workers (street sellers) in the gang was obscured by appeals to gang ideology (honor, ethnic solidarity, and neighborhood loyalty) combined with the lure of income to control them. Taylor (1990a) also talks about the use of money as social control within Detroit drug-selling gangsf a worker steps out of line, he simply is cut off from the business, a punishment far more salient than threats to physical safety. Moore (1992b) describes similar age-related exploitation within chicano gangs in Los Angeles but with little involvement in drug selling.
The exaggerated, almost ideological emphasis on money and material wealth interacts in a very complex fashion with ethnicity and local context. It marks a dramatic shift from the gangs of 1970 to 1985. It is difficult to disentangle the order of events. Did drugs bring in more money, and did money take on greater importance (raised the stakes) because of the economic transformation of the cities? Or did the loss of economic structures make drugs more salient? Did the increased stakes/money bring in guns, which in turn increased the lethality of gang violence? Or did the guns come as a manifestation of power for those who are rejected from any other source of economic or personal power?
In Chicago (Padilla, 1992) and Detroit (Taylor, 1990a, 1990b, 1992), gangs superficially are ethnic enterprises, but more substantively serve as economic units with management structures oriented toward the maintenance of profitability and efficiency. For the African-American gangs in Detroit, there was little concern with the neighborhood or the traditional meaning of gang life. Although forms of internal control varied, money was manipulated along with appeals to ethnic solidarity to maintain loyalty and discipline within groups that otherwise had evolved from gangs or streetcorner groups to become economic organizations. Among the "Diamonds" in Chicago, appeals to Puerto Rican solidarity were used by older gang members to maintain order and motivation within the gang, while these older members kept the lion's share of the gang's profits from drug sales.
The appearance of Crips, Bloods, Vice Lords, Black Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, and other well-known gang names in new gang cities across the country has created concerns that gangs are expanding and migrating. Migration is a term that actually includes several distinct patterns: franchising, opening "branch offices," or acquiring and operating local subsidiaries. Gang migration was virtually unknown until the 1980s, when law enforcement and media reports claimed that gang members were setting up illegal businesses in other cities to expand their drug-selling territories.
There are few instances of gangs operating directly in other cities. Migration seems to be concentrated along interstate highway routes, such as I-75 ('Caine Lane, named for its volume of cocaine traffic) connecting Detroit with Ohio cities, or the I-5 route from Los Angeles through California's Central and San Joaquin valleys (Huff, 1992). Others (Waldorf, 1992) found no evidence of gang migration among San Francisco gangs, either in-migration from Los Angeles gangs or reports of gang members doing gang "business" in other cities.
More often, what appears as migration reflects natural social dynamics of residential relocation, court placements, mimicry, and other forms of gang diffusion. Gang migration also has been confused with the enterprising behavior of individual gang members. There have been sporadic incidents of deliberate migration, isolated among specific gangs in specific cities. But most often, local gangs are composed of local youths who may have adopted the names, graffiti, and other symbols of established gangs from the larger cities.
There are few documented instances of gang migration. Hagedorn (1988) reported that Milwaukee gangs adopted the name of the Vice Lords, a Chicago gang, but had little contact with them. Some Crip or Blood members relocating from Los Angeles may have organized small crews to sell drugs, but law-enforcement officials interpreted this as evidence that Crip chapters had opened in their cities. Chicago gang graffiti appeared in Mississippi as young males were sent away to live with relatives to escape gang violence; but this event was viewed as signs of Chicago gang expansion into the South (Lemann, 1991).
Critics suggest federal initiatives and funds to control gangs have created incentives (and funds) for zealous law-enforcement agencies to identify streetcorner groups or drug gangs as interstate gang conspiracies. Indeed, there have been isolated instances of what Carl Taylor (1990b) calls gang "imperialism," where gangs have established business locations in other cities. Most often, this includes drug sellingnd nearly always among entrepreneurial or corporate gangs. Their motives appear to be simply market expansion and increasing profits. Chicago gangs have influenced the gang scene in nearby Evanston. Chinese street gangs operate both regionally throughout the New York metropolitan area and in cities in the Northeast including Philadelphia, Albany, and Hartford (Chin, 1990). The Chinese gangs are not involved in drug trafficking, but their multiple enterprises include extortion and the smuggling of illegal aliens.
Few phenomena have been stereotyped as easily as gangs, violence, and drug use, especially in conjunction. Drug use has always been a part of gang life, as has peddling of small quantities of whatever street drugs were popular at the time. Many gangs also adopted codes prohibiting drug use, fearing that loyalty to one's drug habit conflicts with loyalty to the gang or efficiency in drug selling. The cocaine and crack crises of the 1980s created opportunities for gang and nongang youths alike to participate in drug selling and increase their incomes. There is little evidence that gang members have become involved in drug selling more so than nongang adolescents. Malcolm Klein and his colleagues, based on police arrest reports following the appearance of crack in Los Angeles in 1985, found no evidence that gang members were arrested more often than nongang members for crack sales, or that drug-related homicides were more likely to involve gang members than nongang members.
Among gangs, involvement 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, both gang members and nongang youths. Crack sales began in Chicago more than five years after Los Angeles gangs began selling drugs. As in Los Angeles, both gang and nongang youths are involved. Crack sales in New York flourished beginning in 1986, but there was no discernible street gang structure that participated in drug selling. Instead, loosely-affiliated selling crews provided an organizational structure for drug sales. Chinese gangs have remained outside the cocaine and crack trades. However, some members (but not the gangs themselves) have been involved in transporting or guarding heroin shipments from Asia.
Not all gang members sell drugs, 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 wholesalers or importers. Among the "Diamonds," Padilla (1992) describes how drug selling is a high-status role reserved for gang members who have succeeded at the more basic economic tasks of stealing and robbery. Despite public images of gang members using drug profits for conspicuous consumption of luxury items, drug incomes in fact are quite modest for gang members who sell drugs. Drug incomes are shared within the gang, but the bulk of the profits remain with the clique or gang member who brought the drugs into the gang. The profits from drug selling, combined with the decline in economic "exits" from gang life, provide some incentive for older gang members to remain in the gang.
(SEE ALSO: Adolescents and Drug Use; Crime and Drugs; Ethnicity and Drugs; Poverty and Drug Use)
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