U.S. flag

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

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Street Youth Gangs (From Gangland: Drug Trafficking by Organized Criminals, P 95-111, 1989, Michael D Lyman -- See NCJ-120419)

NCJ Number
M D Lyman
Date Published
17 pages
This chapter discusses the history, structure, and activities of major youth gangs in the United States, notably the Los Angeles-based CRIPS, and suggests police techniques for investigating such gangs.
Walter Miller identified five criteria to define gangs: violent criminal behavior, group organization, identifiable leadership, continuing interaction among members, and territoriality. In a 1983 national survey, police identified two more gang characteristics: dress or body decoration and the use of identifying graffiti. Colors are used to identify gang members, and graffiti is used to mark territory, communicate with gang members, and send warnings to rival gangs. One of the major street gangs is the CRIPS. Formed in 1969-70 in Los Angeles, the gang's primary criminal activity is crack cocaine trafficking. It has been aggressive in recruiting members and establishing drug-dealing enterprises in cities throughout the United States. The "Bloods" originated as a rival gang to combat the CRIPS. Investigative techniques addressed toward gangs should include the coordination of all police units having contact with gang activity, the identification of gang members, the management of informants, controlled drug purchases, and surveillance of gang hangouts. Figures show gang hand signals and the location of CRIPS and Bloods in U.S. cities.


No download available