The combination of gangs and drugs has loomed for years as a particularly threatening aspect of the gang problem. Until quite recently, however, we lacked the data necessary for a clear understanding of the nature and complexity of youth gangs and their involvement with drug trafficking.
Using the results of the 1996 National Youth Gang Survey of law enforcement agencies, this Bulletin analyzes the participation of youth gang members in drug sales and the role of gangs in drug distribution. Although the authors found widespread drug trafficking among youth gangs, they report that serious involvement seems concentrated in a small number of areas and is overwhelmingly connected to young adult, rather than juvenile, gang members. Thus, jurisdictions should first assess the particular problem they confront in order to target their efforts to combat both gang and drug violence more effectively.
Youth Gang Drug Trafficking provides a thoughtful analysis of extensive youth drug trafficking data and identifies areas for further research. The Bulletin also discusses the policy implications of these findings for communities struggling to curb the negative impact of youth gangs in their midst.