U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Criminal Group Embeddedness and the Adverse Effects of Arresting a Gang's Leader: A Comparative Case Study

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 52 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2014 Pages: 143-168
Date Published
May 2014
26 pages

Using a mixed-method comparative case study of the "Latin Kings" and "22 Boys" street gangs in Chicago, this study examined the adverse effects of arresting a gang's leader.


The study found that the arrest of the 22 Boys gang leader was followed by a spike in violent crime in the gang's territory. An analysis of three shootings in 22 Boys' territory during this period showed that they involved clashes between the Latin Kings and Satan Disciples in the territory of the 22 Boys gang. After the arrest of the 22 Boys leader, the other 22 Boys gang members went into hiding, withdrawing from the occupation of street corners and spraying graffiti, which had warded off rival gangs from encroaching on their territory. Recognizing the potential to exploit the perceived weakness of the 22 Boys, members of the Latin Kings and Satan Disciples clashed in the course of their joint occupation of the 22 Boys' territory. In contrast, the Latin Kings gang continued its operations in its territory after the leaders' arrests because the gang's imprisoned leaders quickly appointed new leadership, thus avoiding a weakening of the gang's hold on its territory. These findings show the importance of criminal group "embeddedness," i.e., the features of interactions within and between gangs in areas targeted for interventions that include the arrest of gang leaders. These findings suggest that planning for gang interventions must include an assessment of how the remaining gang members and rival gangs in adjacent territories may behave after specific gang leaders are removed. The data collection and analysis focused on change in the violent crime rates in the Latin Kings' and 22 Boys' territories for the 6 months after the date of the arrests of their leaders. 2 tables and 70 references

Date Published: May 1, 2014