Slinging dope: The role of gangs and gang members in drug sales

Scott H. Decker, Barrik Van Winkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


There are two competing views about the role of gangs and gang members in drug sales. The first argues that street gangs are well-organized purveyors of illegal drugs who reinvest the profits from drug sales into the gang. A second approach rejects this notion. Its proponents claim that drug sales by gangs are seldom well-organized and that gang members often act independently of the gang in selling drugs. We examine these two arguments in the context of findings from a three-year field study of street gangs in a large midwestern city. We find that gang members are involved extensively in the sale of drugs, but that sales are seldom well organized. These results are discussed in light of the organizational structure of the gang and the nature of the street drug market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-604
Number of pages22
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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