Criminal Street Gangs have impacted America since the 1700s. Criminal Gangs formed in response to the poor economic conditions and growing population that increased the competition for jobs. Gangs formed in New York City were European immigrants from Poland, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Russia and Sweden. Irish immigrants formed the first American criminal gangs in New York City. They had dress codes and called their members by street nicknames. In the 1920s, gangsters were the leading criminals of the day and drew the attention of the government, the national media, law enforcement, and the public. Gangs mainly battled over turf and ethnic differences. Al Capone is reported to have said “There are no gangs in Chicago”.
Definition of a Criminal Street Gang TPC § 71.01(d) / CCP Art. 61.01(1) Criminal Street Gang means three or more persons, having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities. Gang membership is defined by a Judge or a Jury.
Most gangs support the use of violence to settle disputes and achieve group goals associated with: Gang Member recruitment, Defense of identity as a gang member, Turf protection & Expansion and Defense of gang’s honor. Violence also intensifies the bonds between gang members. Criminal Gang Members have their own laws, their own sanctions, and their own social mores.
Some research has estimated the typical age of gang members is between 14 and 24. Other researchers have narrowed the average age of youth gang members to 17-18 years old. Researchers agree that most gangs share certain characteristics. However, there are exceptions; gangs tend to develop along racial and ethnic lines, and are typically 90 percent male. Gang members often display their membership through distinctive styles of dress–their “colors”–and through specific activities and patterns of behavior. Why do juveniles join gangs? Status , Love, Fellowship, Belonging, Acceptance, Boredom, Identity, Money, Brotherhood, Recognition, Excitement, Respect, Family Tradition, and Companionship. WHEN ASKED WHY JUVENILES JOINED A GANG 75 % ANSWERED PROTECTION !
Signs of Gang Involvement:
- Claiming gang membership;
- Wearing gang-related clothing or jewelry;
- Using hand signs;
- Assuming a new nickname or street name;
- Substance abuse;
- Truancy or poor school performance;
- Frequent negative contact with police;
- Unexplained income; and
- Unexplained signs, symbols, or graffiti on personal property, in the youth’s bedroom, or near his or her home.
Common Myths About Gangs:
- My gang will protect me, and I will feel safe,
- Other people will respect me more if I am in a gang,
- Joining a gang means I’ll have lots of friends,
- My gang will be just like a family,
- I’ll make lots of money if I’m in a gang,
- I can never get out of my gang.
Gangs Investigated in Aransas Pass, Texas:
- Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT),
- Aryan Circle (AC),
- Bloods (BLD),
- Crips (CRP),
- Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos (HPL),
- Mexikanemi/Texas Mexican Mafia (EME),
- Partido Revolucionario Mexicano (PRM),
- Raza Unida (RU),
- Texas Syndicate/Syndicato Tejano (ESE TE; TS),
- Dirty White Boys,
- Tango Houstone,
- Tango Corpitos,
- Tango San Anto,
- Tango Dallas,