CQ Researcher provides award winning in-depth coverage of the most important issues of the day. Our reports are written by experienced journalists, footnoted and professionally fact-checked. Full-length articles include an overview, historical background, chronology, pro/con feature, plus resources for additional research. Graphics, photos and short "sidebar" features round out the reports. Shorter "Hot Topics" articles provide a solid introduction to subjects most in demand by students.
After years of decline, homicide and gun violence are surging in U.S. cities, and many law enforcement officials say street gangs are a major reason for the increase. Gang membership has soared in recent years, and crimes committed by gangs have expanded beyond drug dealing and murder to migrant smuggling, sex trafficking and counterfeiting. Gang leaders are using the Internet and social media to communicate, recruit members and threaten rival groups. Meanwhile, gangs are spreading to smaller cities, suburbs and even rural areas. Legal injunctions — restraining orders that bar gang members from congregating publicly — have curbed criminal activity in some localities, but critics say the tactic violates civil liberties, is applied in a racially biased manner and unfairly stigmatizes innocent young people. Countering the gang threat requires a multipronged strategy, many experts say, that combines tough policing with anti-poverty programs that seek to keep youths from falling into the gang lifestyle.
|1800s||Immigration gives rise to ethnic and racially based gangs in U.S. cities.|
|1900s–1950s||Sicilian Mafia eclipses urban street gangs as a criminal threat; black and Hispanic gangs form after World War II.|
|1960s–1970s||Gangs become involved in the drug trade as distributors for importers.|
|1980s–1990s||Central America's civil wars lead to massive U.S. immigration and gang formation. The crack cocaine epidemic fuels gang drug wars.|
|2000s-Present||U.S. deportees establish MS-13 and 18th Street gangs in Central America; subsequent violence leads to massive migration to the United States.|