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Street Gangs and Drug Sales: A Report to the National Institute of Justice

NCJ Number
172252
Date Published
Author(s)
C. L. Maxson, M. W. Klein, L. C. Cunningham
Annotation
This report presents the methodology and findings of a study of gangs' involvement in drug dealing in Pasadena and Pomona, Calif. Data set archived by the NIJ Data Resources Program at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, located at URL http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/nacjd.
Abstract
These two mid-sized suburban cities were selected because of their locations within the Los Angeles metropolitan area, their long-standing gang problems, and the police perception that both black and Hispanic gangs were involved in the distribution of a variety of drugs. The police departments in these two cities also have well-developed gang units and gang membership files, both of which facilitate the obtaining of data on gang activities. Although relying on police arrest records and gang membership files put some limits on this study of gang involvement in drug sales, the study reached several conclusions from the data. Data indicate that gang involvement in drug distribution in the two cities is substantial, but not overwhelming. Rates of involvement in cocaine sales are sufficiently high to give police some concern, but they are not sufficient to cause alarm. The even lower rates of gang involvement in transactions of drugs other than cocaine requires little specialized attention by police. There is little evidence of special impacts associated with gang involvement in drug sales of any type. The clearest policy implication that emerged from the study is that police should move away from gang specialization in narcotics enforcement, except for the possible exception of the extremely involved drug- selling street gang. Here, intelligence building and sharing between gang and narcotics units may be beneficial. On a Federal level, the researchers do not recommend the promotion of gang specialization with the Drug Enforcement Administration. 4 tables, 2 figures, and 21 references
Date Created: December 17, 2008