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Lt. J.J. Brewer













Sgt. J.T. Leonard

Unit Leader


What is a Gang?

A gang is an organized group of 3 or more people who interact together to the exclusion of others.  Commonly they have a name or claim an identity and engage in illegal activities, such as violent crimes, drug dealing, firearm trafficking, robberies, and many others. 


Some anthropologists believe that the gang structure is one of the most ancient forms of human organizations.

Most commonly, the word "gang" refers to street gangs (a.k.a. youth gangs), groups who take over territory "turf" in a particular city, sometimes simply for lack of something better to do.  They seek to intimidate and frighten community members.

Some gangs are based on race or ethnicity, but gang loyalty takes precedence over race or ethnicity, background or even family.  To become a gang member, an initiation is usually involved as a way to prove their loyalty.  This initiation often involves, “beating in” where a group of gang members physically attack the new member all at one time; random acts of violence; or other illegal activity.  In the case of females, the initiation may involve sexual acts.


Most gangs use distinctive graffiti or “taggings” to mark their territory.  Gangs have been known to claim “colors” that are often evident in their clothing.  Gangs usually have hand signs that are also specific and unique to their gang.

Gangs may engage in fighting other gangs for the purpose of claiming their “turf”, or as a matter of honor, where they feel that a rival gang member has “disrespected” their gang or one of their members.  These fights can end in with a homicide being committed.


Apart from street gangs, there are motorcycle gangs (such as Hells Angels, the Gypsy Jokers, Mongols, Vagos, etc.), prison gangs or Security Threat Groups (such as the Mexican gang la Eme—the Mexican Mafia), organized criminal mafias (a term deriving originally from the Italian, but now also applied to the Russian Mafia), and Asian criminal gangs (such as Chinese triads and the Japanese yakuza, as well as smaller Chinese-American outfits like the Ghost Shadows).