Gangs, Drugs, and Violence
GANGS, DRUGS AND VIOLENCE 7
Gangs,Drugs, and Violence
Gangresearch has revealed a relationship between gangs, drugs,and violence (Joe-Laidler & Hunt, 2012). It has beendocumentedthat some gangsin today’s society embody fear owing to their relationship tocriminal activities and organization and the connotation that goeswith it. Law enforcement, policymakers,and local communities were progressively more worried regarding theincrease in drug-related aggression in America in the late 1980s(Joe-Laidler & Hunt, 2012). They were especially worried aboutthe involvement of gangs in the emerging cocaine market as well asthe violence experienced at the scene. Researchers in variouslocations including Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York City, Detroit andMilwaukee unearthed variations in the link between drugs, gang,and violence over the next decade. Some research has indicated thatvarious instrumental gangswere organized in a corporate manner to benefit from illegal drugs.On the other hand, some prominent perspective in gangliterature suggeststhat the involvement of gang members in selling drugs does notnecessarily increase violence behavior. Consequently, this study willexplore the link between gangs, drugs,and violence. Gang members involved inthe sale ofdrugs are considerably more violence than those that do not selldrugs.
Agang is a loosely formed group that consists of at least threepersons via which a formation, establishment or organization of anassembly, have acollectiveidentity. Gang members spend a lot of time hanging around othermembers. They usually demonstrate a high value for group sacrificeand loyalty. They consist of young persons of the same racial, ethnicand economic background. In the United States, both minority andmajority races have established gangs to fight for their rights andin the name of identity. They seek to defend their groups throughterror and violently. Young men who are drawn to join gangs andengage in extreme aggression with serious theft and drug selling mayshare overallcontextual, familial and development risks (Gordon, Rowe, White,Loeber & Farrington, 2014). High family disorganization, lack ofstrong familial support and low socioeconomic status have beencitedas some of the predictive aspects of gang membership. Joining a gangweakens family bonds,and hence the members turn to their peers in the group for support.The members view the gangas a surrogate family,and they regularlyreference each other as sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, and cousins(Joe-Laidler & Hunt, 2012). The situation facilitates thecontinuous social reinforcement of norms that support gang as well asdrug involvement. Studies have offered insights into the link betweengangmembership and various forms of criminal behavior. Rosenfeld, White &Esbensen (2012) study revealed thatmore than two-thirdsof individuals in gangsin the Pittsburgh Youth Study sold drugs. Inaddition,approximately half took part in severe violence or seriouspoints as adolescents. The study pointedto an increase in many forms of delinquency in young persons’actively engaged in gangs. The members engagein a higher level of violent and dangerouscrime than their peers who are not part of agang.Studies about gangs areoften interconnectedwith research about drug crime and gun violence. Consequently, drugs,gangs, and violence are interconnected.
InAmerica, the number of gangsis increasing, as is gang-related violent behavior, and there are nosigns that it will reduce inthe near future(Axelrod, 2015). According to James Howell, an official of theNational Gang Center, the organization does not envisage a decreasein the key gang size indicators (Axelrod, 2015). Over the last fiveyears, the agencyhad recorded “an 8 percent increase in the number of gangs,an 11 percent increase in members and a 23 percent increase ingang-related homicides” (Axelrod, 2015, par.2). In the UnitedStates, approximately 85% of seriousgang activities areconcentratedin urban or city areas. The groupsengage in criminal activities that range from drug trafficking tostreet robberies. They use intimidation and violence to support theirillegal activities and to secure respect. Since most gangs are of alow socioeconomicstatus, they take part in illegal money-makingactivities and coerce rival groups and neighborhoods withvictimization and violent crimes. The gangmembers engage in violence that “tends tostem from loosely knitsocial networks of individuals that hang together on the street andpromote violence as a means of handling conflict” (Engel, Tillyer &Corsaro, 2013, p. 13).
Accordingto Rosenfeld, White & Esbensen (2012) study, violence is lessassociated with drug dealing and more connected to struggles andcontests for honor and respect. Also,drug use and alcohol play a fundamentalrole in the lives of gang members lives as it acts as a sociallubricant in the competition for masculine respect among rivals andpeers. Gangmembers are also increasingly engaged in drug trafficking activities.The members target gangsas a solution to economic problems. They are frequently more involvedin sales of drugsand this often leads to an increase in violent behaviors. Theincreased delinquency of gang members is “concentrated in twocombinations: (1) drug selling and severeviolence, or (2) drug sale,serious theft, and serious violence” (Gordon, Rowe, White, Loeber &Farrington, 2014).
Gangsengage in violence and crime in instrumentalways. The multi-type criminal behavior is used instrumentally to makemoney by supportingthe selling and acquisition of drugs and stolen property or toprotectthe drug territory (Gordon, Rowe, White, Loeber & Farrington,2014). The gang members’ involvement in the sellingof illegalsubstances andturf wars between rival gangs can lead to death or violence. Overthe past few years, there has beenan increase in the world of gangmembers. Selling drugs is one of the economic methods of acquiringmoney to support the gangas well as their families. As a result, they destroy people’s livesas they stop at nothing to purchaseor sell their drugs, even though it entails killing or hurting otherpeople. Most gang members should have the streetknowledge and have the skills to protect their revenue andthemselves. They endanger their lives and that of others. Most gangsnormallyfeel the need to be violent due to the entrenchedbelief that they should be respected as well as have control overtheir turf this prompts most gang-on-gang violence. The drug dealingbusiness thus plays a significant role in promotingviolence. Compared to non-gang killings, gang killings mostly involvemany suspects in an outdoor setting, more often involving a gun andmore likely concentrated in the gang’s neighborhood. Drug sellingis thus aprincipalactivity of gangsand oneof the leading causes ofviolence in most gangs. Most drug dealers in gangsalso carry guns more often than those peers not involved with thesellingof illegal drugs. Asa result, they are most likely tocommit murder than their peers.
Thegangs’ participation in the drug market is also related to gunviolence. Gangsthat sell or buy drugs experience more levels of gun violence thantheir non-drug participants. Given that most members carry large sumsof money as well as costly and valuable drugs, they need to safeguardthemselves against robbery acts. Gangs that open the doors for gunsto be used increase the chance of firearm-relatedviolence. The use of firearmsis a serious issue that has significantly contributedto violent crimes, including deaths. Forster, Grigsby, Unger &Sussman (2015) noted that gang membership increases the risk of youngperson’s carrying a gun for defensive or offensive purposes. One ofthe respondents in Taylor (2013) study noted that thegiveninstructions to shoot when they drove past a crowd of rival gangs andalso forced to get out of the cars to killrival members that were alone. Another respondent said that he wascompelledto take money from drug addicts by force in their neighborhood,usually through violent means. Other members of the gang participatedincriminalactivities that entailed bullying persons that were not part of thegangand defacing property (Taylor, 2013).
Inconclusion, gangmembership and drug selling increase the occurrence of violence.Gangsengage in violence inorder todemand respect as well as ensure control over their neighborhoods’and cities. They also carry guns inorder to protectexpensive drugs and money from theft this increases gun relatedviolence and ismore likely to be involved in killing people. The gangs engage incriminal behavior tomake money for supportingthe group and to defendtheir territory. Gangmembership issignificantly linkedto gun violence. Gang members involved in selling drugs areconsiderably more violent than those that do not sell drugs.
Axelrod,T. (2015) Gang Violence is on the Rise, Even as Overall ViolenceDeclines. U.S.News. Retrieved 11 April 2017 fromhttps://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/06/gang-violence-is-on-the-rise- even-as-overall-violence-declines
Engel,R., Tillyer, M. & Corsaro, N. (2013) Reducing Gang Violence usingFocused Deterrence: Evaluating the Cincinnati Initiative to ReduceViolence (CIRV).JQ:Justice Quarterly,30(3): 403-439.
Forster,M., Grigsby, T., Unger, J. & Sussman, S. (2015) Associationsbetween Gun Violence Exposure, Gang Associations, and YouthAggression: Implications for Prevention and Intervention Programs.Journalof Criminology,8
Gordon,R. A., Rowe, H. L., Pardini, D., Loeber, R., White, H. R., &Farrington, D. P. (2014). SeriousDelinquency and Gang Participation: Combining and Specializing in Drug Selling, Theft, and Violence. Journalof Research on Adolescence : The Official Journal of the SocietyforResearch on Adolescence, 24(2),235–251.
Joe-Laidler,K. & Hunt,G.(2012) Movingbeyond the gang-drug-violence connection.Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy,19 (6): 442-452.
Rosenfeld,R., White, H. R., & Esbensen, F-A. (2012). Specialcategories of seriousand violentoffenders:Drug dealers, gang members, homicide offenders, and sex offenders. InR. Loeber & D. P. Farrington (Eds.), From juvenile delinquency toadult crime: Criminal careers, justice policy, and prevention.New York: Oxford University Press.
Taylor,S. (2013) Why American Boys Join Street Gangs. InternationalJournal of Sociology and Anthropology,5(8):339-349
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