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Street Gang Migration: How Big a Threat?

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 230 Dated: February 1996 Pages: 26-31
Date Published
February 1996
6 pages
Recognizing public concern about gang proliferation and migration and drug market expansion, this study was conducted in cities that had experienced gang migration to assess the national scope and characteristics of of gang migration.
In the first phase of the study, cities were identified through a questionnaire sent to law enforcement agencies in 1,105 cities. The 480 cities in which at least 10 gang migrants arrived during the past year became the basis for the the second phase of the study, the law enforcement interview part. Interviews conducted in 226 cities produced detailed descriptions of gang migrant characteristics, crime patterns, and law enforcement responses. The third phase of the study involved telephone interviews in 42 cities, while the fourth phase of the study involved case studies in three cities selected as exemplary of gang migration patterns. Gang migrant age ranged from 13 to 30 years, 63 percent of gang migrants came from cities in the Los Angeles area, the primary source of gang migration was typically within 100 miles of the destination city, the average length of stay was 3 months or longer, and gang migration moves were primarily family moves and drug market expansion. Ways in which gang migrants participated in gangs in the destination cities exhibited no dominant patterns. Most police departments had not developed specific strategies to deal with gang migrants. Some community respondents recognized that the problem of gang migration, and various gang prevention activities had been initiated. Case studies of the three cities indicated that reasons for gang migration were complex. Policy implications of the findings are discussed, and further research is recommended. 4 notes and 1 figure

Date Published: February 1, 1996