Gang Homicides Typically Not Precipitated By Drug Trade Or Use

"Homicide is the second leading cause of death among persons aged 15โ€“24 years in the United States (4). In some cities, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach, gang homicides account for the majority of homicides in this age group (61% and 69%, respectively). The differences observed in gang versus nongang homicide incidents with regard to victim demographics, place of injury, and the use of drive-by shootings and firearms are consistent with previous reports (5). The finding that gang homicides commonly were not precipitated by drug trade/use or other crimes in progress also is similar to previous research; however, this finding challenges public perceptions on gang homicides (5). The public often has viewed gangs, drug trade/ use, crime, and homicides as interconnected factors; however, studies have shown little connection between gang homicides and drug trade/use and crime (5). Gangs and gang members are involved in a variety of high-risk behaviors that sometimes include drug and crime involvement, but gang-related homicides usually are attributed to other circumstances (6). Newark was an exception by having a higher proportion of gang homicides being drug-related. A possible explanation of this divergent finding could be that Newark is experiencing homicides by gangs formed specifically for drug trade. Overall, these findings support a view of gang homicides as retaliatory violence. These incidents most often result when contentious gang members pass each other in public places and a conflict quickly escalates into homicide with the use of firearms and drive-by shootings."


"Gang Homicides โ€” Five U.S. Cities, 2003โ€“2008," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control, January 27, 2012) Vol. 61, No. 3, p. 48.