Trends – 7 Ways Gangs are Evolving

Ensemble Group Blog

Gangs are an ever-evolving term used to describe an organized group of criminals, however the traditional sense of gangs has evolved over the last decade.  Traditional philosophies on gang culture, influence, and hierarchy have all been slowly changing.  Many law enforcement agencies have tried to understand these, amongst other issues, and GangScope has put together a few bullet points that cover the broad range of topics that encompass Gangs in 2020. 

7 Ways Gangs are Evolving


Gangs have always been a significant threat to public safety, however their fragmentation has always kept them battling themselves and law enforcement.  Gangs are now working together more, even working with traditional enemies, for high levels of violence, such as murder, sex trafficking, armed robbery, aggravated assault, trafficking of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.


Despite ramped up efforts, gangs are continuing to remain steadfast in their objectives to generate revenue and gain control of the territories they inhabit.


Gangs in Texas, our HQ state, continue to work closely with the Mexican cartels. Here, gangs provide direct support to cartel drug and human smuggling operations into and throughout Texas and the nation. Cartels also utilize gang members to procure and move weapons and money to Mexico, and sometimes to commit violent crimes on both sides of the border.


Younger gang members are relinquishing traditional gang structure and rules, and opting for less organizational oversight and the freedom to serve in self-interested roles. The new generation of gang members prefer a free enterprise, no-oversight, approach to their criminal operations.  Previously, many gangs operated under a strict rule which mandated members to remain in the gang for life or face punishment. Now younger gang members are committing crimes in order to enjoy the profits for themselves, without first receiving permission from gang leadership.


With the rise of social media and social applications comes another element to gang culture.  Gang members of all ages use social media and video-sharing websites to brag, recruit, promote, and antagonize. They also utilize encrypted mobile messaging applications to communicate privately to thwart law enforcement’s ability to counter their criminal activities.


While gangs have historically formed along racial or ethnic lines, many gangs are becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. This might be due, in part, to increasingly diverse gang member recruiting pools in a given area, the general loosening of traditional gang rules, and the willingness to facilitate business between gangs of different races. Most gangs will work with nearly any group in order to further their criminal objectives when it is mutually convenient and profitable, regardless of race or ideology. 


Alliances and rivalries, which are traditionally observed by the gang as a whole, will likely remain an integral part of gang relationships. However, the continual push towards profit-motivated associations will very likely create more opportunistic relationships among gangs and with cartels. These opportunistic relationships are fluid and may not occur among all members of the gang, but may instead be based on ad-hoc actions by individual members.

as reported by the National Gang Report 2015  & Texas Gang Threat Assessment (2018)