Gangs and Counter-Gang Strategies
This chapter focuses on gangs and counter-gang strategies and how they have contributed to violence. It begins with a conceptualization of gangs. After an examination of the different elements that constitute a gang, the chapter discusses the structure of gangs, focusing on the differences between vertical and horizontal structures. It then turns to an examination of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street gangs. It analyzes the origins of these organizations and the different factors that resulted in the expansion of these street gangs throughout Central America. The chapter focuses on the role of tough on crime strategies as well as the consequences of such initiatives. Next, it explores the relationship between Central American street gang members and the penitentiary system. It also explores the relationship between these gangs and the United States and analyzes the policies of the current administration. The chapter concludes with some policy recommendations.