Street gangs are becoming more formally organized and more threatening to society.
Today’s Super gangs, consists of thousands or tens of thousands of members, including adults, with a history of generational lineage.
Gangs grow in times of conflict or crisis and decrease in size at other times.
Some gangs with a high proportion of adult members have very sophisticated organizational networks, much like large corporations.
The Black “Gangster Disciples” Nation (BGDN) exemplifies such an evolution from a relatively disorganized criminal street gang to a formal criminal organization.
Its corporate hierarchy comprises a
Chairman of the Board, (Chief Executive Officer)
2 Boards of Directors (one for prisons, another for the streets), Governors (who control drug trafficking within geographical areas), Regents (the supplier and overseer of vending locations within the governors' realms),
Area Co-coordinators (collectors),
And "Shorties" (youngsters who staff vending spots and execute the deals).
From 1987 to 1994, BGDN was responsible for more than 200 homicides. One-half of their arrests were for drug offenses and only one-third were for nonlethal violence.
An observation made today sees that the old, traditional gang structure of past decades seems to be declining.
In an earlier era, street gangs might have comprised several hundred members and were generally age graded, consisting of several subgroups based on age known as sets or cliques.
Both youth and adult gangs had these characteristics.
Recently, however, age-graded and geographically based youngsters and adult gangs have become less common.
These have given way to relatively autonomous, smaller, independent groups, poorly organized and less territorial than it used to be.
Leadership is complex, fluid and responsive, more diffuse than concentrated, and depends in large part on the particular activity being conducted.
Even large youth gangs composed of allied "sets or cliques" may not be well organized and may be in a constant state of flux because of the various subgroups, changing leadership, and the limited number of hardcore members.
Although they are very much in the minority, the combination of youngsters & adult drug gangs are more predominant now than in the 1960's and 1970's.
The racial/ethnic composition of gangs also appears to be changing.
Black and Hispanic gangs still predominate, but in a growing number of cities, White, Asian, South Pacific Islanders, and “mix” groups have been surfacing in greater numbers than in the past.
A dramatic growth of adult prison gangs is also a factor that plays a role in the street gangs of today.
These gangs began to be a significant factor in State prisons in the late 1950's and mid 1960's, with a fully-grown hierarchy and structure by the 1970’s.
These adult prison gangs have become the pinnacle of achievement in the gang culture, providing experience and leadership to the street gangs.
The most notorious and most organized of them all being the Mexican Mafia AMONG THE MANY OTHERS.