Females and Gangs:
Sexual Violence, Prostitution, and Exploitation
George W. Knox, Ph.D.
© Copyright 2008, Chicago, IL, National Gang Crime Research Center.
WARNING: This document is copyright protected in its entirety. A copyright is on file with the U.S. Copyright Office, Washington, DC, United States Library of Congress. The NGCRC strictly forbids reproducing, copying, distributing, or disseminating its “gang profiles”, also known as gang threat analysis research reports. No portion of the contents of these NGCRC gang profiles may be copied, reproduced, stored, or distributed in any form whatsoever without the prior written permission of the National Gang Crime Research Center.
This study includes not just female gang members and female gangs, but also those females and women who are associated with gang members. The central focus of the analysis is the scope and extent of sexual violence and sexual exploitation in what is, after all, a male dominated gang problem in America. It is necessary, therefore, to review previous studies along these lines and illustrate the scenarios and methods of operation in which females are victimized by gangs today.
REVIEW OF THE RELEVANT LITERATURE
1. Gangs and Rape.
Prior patterns of sexual abuse early in the developmental lifespan of gang members tends to be predictive of future involvement by the same gang members in forcible rape. This is documented both in systematic research and in qualitative research. It is basically the story of the transition from “abused” to “abuser”. Miller (2001: pp. 139-140) reports an interview with a female gang member where the rape occurs “gang rape” style and the victim is a female member of a rival gang; the gang rape happened after the female members had already beaten the rival female gang member.
In the “kiss and tell” book entitled My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King (Sanchez, 2000), the former gang member author discloses this identical pattern. He describes how his older cousin Alberto, while serving in a care provider capacity, brutally rapes and sodomizes him when he was a child (pp. 2-3), and then goes on to describe how he himself would later rape female associates of his Latin King gang (pp. 132-133).
2. Gangs and Prostitution.
The comprehensive analysis of female prostitution in Chicago by O’Leary and Howard (2001, p. 16) reported receiving “conflicting information” about the extent to which street-level prostitution (i.e., “strolls”) was controlled by gangs or pimps. But they noted that “service providers also report that gang members who control illicit street-level activity such as drug dealing in many areas also expect to receive a percentage of prostitution income made on the street, if only in the form of sexual access to women or girls” (O’Leary and Howard, 2001: p. 17).
But the O’Leary and Howard (2001) research provided strong evidence of the interacting linkage between illegal drugs and prostitution. The general causal framework this establishes is: (1) gangs sell illegal drugs, (2) females get drugs from the gangs, (3) to maintain habits/pay debts some females engage in prostitution. But there are a number of different scenarios where gangs become involved in prostitution in a more systematic fashion and these variations are discussed in the present report.
Previous research by the NGCRC included the study entitled “The Economics of Gang Life: A Task Force Report” (Knox, et al, 1995) provides some of the best estimates for the parameters of pimping and prostitution within the American gang member population. This research gathered information directly from over 1,000 gang members in order to understand the costs and benefits associated with gang life in America today. The research involved collecting the same data in different types of social contexts where we might expect to find gang members: adult and juvenile correctional facilities, and community programs (alternative high school, gang prevention program, private day jail program, etc). The data was collected in five states including: California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. This research specifically measured pimping and prostitution among gang members. Two separate questions addressed these issues in the survey. Over a fourth (31.5%) reported they have pimped prostitutes before. Only 7.7 percent (N = 71) indicated they had ever served as prostitutes however. Table 1 shows pimping increases as the organizational sophistication of the gang increases. The classification system is a gang risk/threat classification system we developed.
Percentage Distribution of Pimping Among Gang Members
By the Gang Classification System
Gang Risk or Threat Classification
Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Percent who report they
have ever been a pimp. 22.2% 28.1% 34.8% 38.9%
Chi-square = 12.1, p = .007
In Table 1, Level 0 is the most informal level of gang organizational sophistication, and Level 3 is the most organizationally sophisticated level of gang organization. Thus, the more organizationally sophisticated the gang is, the more likely its members are to report that they have engaged in pimping behavior.
I. SEXUAL VIOLENCE AS A CONSEQUENCE OF BEING INVOLVED WITH MALE GANG MEMBERS
Another scenario under which females are sexually exploited or become victims of sexual violence occurs when they simply are exposed to the risky behaviors that the gang or its members represent in terms of a propensity for violence. Some might view this as the issue of victim precipitation, but it is more reasonable to view this as the issue of not effectively evaluating the the probability of victimization given the fact that gangs do like to portray their groups as “providers of protection”.
This is an interpersonal hazzard theory, therefore, which posits that the greater the level of contact with gang members, the greater the risk of harm ---- including sexual violence and sexual exploitation. It is a sad commentary on the nature of living in the most advanced and affluent democracy in the world that in some areas of the United States one can killed simply because you are mistaken as a gang member — but this is a fact, and such incidents do occur in America.
STREET LEVEL PROSTITUTES: RENEGADES RUNNING INTO GANGS
Another name for a street level prostitute in Chicago is a “renegade”, because they do not have pimps. As a more compulsive and drug-dependent group, renegades often become prostitutes simply because of their drug habits. When, as in Chicago, drugs are a “gang controlled” enterprise, the renegade prostitute will often a number of risks and hazzards simply by purchasing drugs. We can illustrate this with the case study of Jill Jones (not her real name).
Jill today is in recovery, owns a new car that she purchased from legitimate income at a legitimate job. But when she was 19 years old, she killed a baby, and went to state prison where she served just over ten years. She had never in her life performed fellatio on a man until she reached the age of 31, when she entered the “occupation of desperation”: street-level prostitution in Chicago. Jill had become a crack addict after release from prison. She spent nine years in the street level prostitution life style. Jill is 43 today, having been drug free for two years.
As a crack addict her “learning curve” as a street prostitute usually meant surviving one vicious assault after another. What she quickly learned was that if she was “working” in a territory controlled by the Gangster Disciples, she was expected to buy her drugs from the Gangster Disciples too. If she worked an area controlled by the Gangster Disciples, but bought her drugs from a rival gang, she faced major conflicts with the Gangster Disciples: “If you didn’t buy your drugs from the gang that controlled the territory, you would get beat up, robbed or gang raped”, said Jill. Buying drugs from the opposition therefore is a way to upset the local gang controlling the turf a prostitute may be working in.
Local gang leaders in the territory routinely extorted “favors” from prostitutes: complimentary services from the working girls. Renegade prostitutes like Jill would routinely “comply” with these “requests” or “directives” due to the compulsion factor: failure to comply would bring an almost certain risk of being a victim of violence from the gang. Today, in recovery, Jill speaks about how she must be “blessed” to have not been killed so many different times she was in this “business”. Because she had a close friend named Melody who, after angering two gang members, was forced into their car, and was brutally raped, tortured, and killed in Chicago near the Henry Horner public housing complex. Apparently, the victim Melody (age 25) had been given a small amount of drugs to sell so she could have a small amount for her own consumption. This is called being given a “pack”: you keep 3 from the pack, but you have to sell the other 7 dime bags of crack from the “pack” and return the full amount to the dealer.
Not atypically, a drug addict absconds with the “pack” and simply consumes it as was the case with Melody. So when the gang members who gave her the “pack” eventually found Melody, she had to be executed because the gang had a “reputation” to uphold: the gang cannot let someone steal from them. As Jill explained, “once they were done, the two gang members shoved a large tree limb up her vagina, she died a horrible death”. The death of her friend in the business helped Jill to re-evaluate the costs and benefits of this lifestyle. It was a “wake up call” for Jill and motivated her to seek drug treatment.
THE BLACK DISCIPLES: A CHICAGO GANG THAT RAPES AND MURDERS STREET LEVEL PROSTITUTES
What led a number of Chicago street prostitutes to be killed and tortured in recent years? Their drug connections to the Black Disciples (BD’s) street gang. What they did not know is that they were putting other prostitutes at risk of the same “risk”: ritual murder.
Members of this gang, operating on a “spree” of good times, in their hood, have been confirmed by top level criminal investigators to be responsible for about a dozen different ritual killings of prostitutes in the Englewood neighborhood of south Chicago in recent years. There have been some arrests, but not all of the murders have yet been cleared in relationship to this gang. But apparently it worked like this: there were two scenarios, various members of the Black Disciples (BD’s) gang would have relationships with known street level hookers in the area, and would front them drugs. Some would not pay their bill. The next time they were encountered, they would be taken at gun point into a car, and ritually killed in a most violent fashion. The other scenario seemed to play out as an extension of their “hunt” for prostitutes who owed them drug debts, and when they would find a victim, it really did not matter at this point, they were on a rampage of violence against women and when offered a “figure” to get in the car, the prostitute obliged, and before she knew what was up, she was under the gun, and in the last terrifying moments of her life.
According to inside sources in the “cold case squad” of the Chicago Police Department, there are about a dozen prostitute killings that have the imprint of the Black Disciples street gang members. All of these murders occurred in about a one mile radius of 45 Street south and Indiana Avenue. A number of these were “thrill kills” which occurred after the first couple murders. Thus, the prostitutes may have had no relationship whatsoever to the Black Disciples street gang in terms of owing them money for drugs, but when the BD’s were out on a “search and destroy” mission for those prostitutes who had “burned them” on drug deals, they encountered other prostitutes who would “fit the bill”. The “bill” in this instance was satisfying the need for ritualized sexual violence and murder. In their twisted conception of “humanity” they were not killing a “human being”, they were just killing a “ho”. It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that the “revenge” theme for a gang losing status in the community for being burned on “drug debts” transitioned into a more proactive “prostitute killer” syndrome within this criminal subculture in Chicago.
While a number of these homicides are at this time, not yet cleared by arrest and conviction, it is important not to reveal too much details about forensic evidence left behind by the various perpetrators of this pattern of homicide, let it suffice that it seemed clear that a number of persons from the “gang” were involved and left their “trace evidence” on the victim during their sexual assaults. As DNA evidence database enhancements occur over the horizon, it can be expected that some of these other killers will in fact be brought to justice. Thus, the only hope for some of these offenders is that they “flip” and assist government prosecutors or else face the death penalty themselves. If by some cunning legal assistance or other strange coincidence they should ever read this, they need to take the first step and volunteer the information they have: because if they wait too long, they may become the primary focus of prosecution and wind up on death row. NGCRC data suggests that about a fourth of gang members will “snitch” on their colleagues given the right motivation.
The reader is referred to the work of Knox (2000) to better understand the unique gang organization known as the BD’s: it is different from the Gangster Disciples (aka: “Black Gangster Disciples”, aka “Black Gangster Disciple Nation”, Aka “Brothers of the Struggle), and it is also different from the “Black Gangsters”, aka “BG’s”, aka “New Breed”. These are really three (3) different formal gangs in Chicago: the B.D.’s., the G.D.’s, and the B.G.’s.
DATING A SURENO, BUT DRINKING WITH A LATIN KING: DRUGGED AND RAPED
There is no way to estimate how many times this happens in cities, large and small, across America and elsewhere. But it involves a typical scenario where a young woman is at a party or a bar or night club, and makes the acquaintance of someone who is willing to buy her a drink. In this case, the young woman had admitted to her new “friend” that she was dating a member of the Surenos gang (SUR 13). She would only discover later, after being drugged and raped, that she was getting free drinks from a member of the Latin Kings. It is common to gang subcultural argot to call such new friendly acquaintances “frenemies”: they act like friends, but they are really enemies.
In this particular city where the drug induced rape occurred, the SUR 13 gang was a hostile rival to the Latin King gang. We can cut to right to the chase and tell you in advance the moral of the story: the moral of the story is if you are a woman and you are dating or romantically involved with a criminal gang member, the last thing you want to do is informally disclose this information in a way that a rival gang might learn about it and view you as a target for sexual violence.
So she takes the drink, and experiences the effects of alcohol and drugs, she leaves with the Latin King. She passes out in his car, and he rapes her, and leaves her on the side of the road. She is discovered by a motorist, the police arrive, she is taken to the hospital. Interviewed the next day, she tells the investigating officer “yes, I remember the last drink, there were like remnants of a pill or something at the bottom of the glass”, i.e., something that had not fully dissolved in the drink. This is the old Jeffery Dahmer “Mickey Finn” technique --- Dahmer’s M.O. was to use sedatives in alcoholic beverages, and when his victims began to pass out, he would restrain them and give them a kind of home-made frontal lobotomy by using a battery-powered drill to bore a small hole through the front of their cranium into the brain tissue, rendering them further unable to resist his moves. It is not well known, but it is true, that in fact the first victim Jeffery Dahmer actually “ate” body parts from was a Gangster Disciple member from Chicago. Back to the female rape victim, witnesses at the bar helped identify the drug-rapist, and he was a member of the Latin Kings. In his twisted view of the world, he had a “right”, no indeed a duty, to rape a rival gang members’ girl friend. In his “view of the world”, raping her was just a logical extension of the “gang war”.
THE OVER-THE-BRIDGE CASE: The Expendable Sex Toy
What happens when a young affluent suburban female becomes enchanted with “gangsta rap” music takes it up a notch and becomes a sex toy for “big city” gang members? In this case, torture and murder (Knox, 2000: pp. 290-291).
This 20-year-old female had everything an upper-middle class family could offer her. Her father was the District Superintendent for the school system in a collar county, and thus she had all the family-paid perks someone in her position could ask for: car, clothing, charge card, spending money, etc. The one thing she wanted that her affluent family could not provide was the excitement offered by a criminal street gang in Chicago. She was kind of like a “weekend warrior” as gang associates go. During the week she would spend most time in her affluent suburban area, occasionally making short evening trips to Chicago, but spending more time with the gang on the weekends. This “folks” gang was located on Chicago’s “wild 100's” south side. She was white, and the gang she hung out with was African-American.
What began as a routine contact to purchase drugs from the gang resulted in a more routinized level of contact with the gang. This kind of “courtship” with gang life occurs when someone begins a relationship to the gang at the “mode of consumption”: i.e., they regularly purchase drugs from the gang.
But when they become “regulars”, and are eventually spending more social time with the gang, this can mean extending the relationship beyond that of a routine “customer”. It becomes a facilitative mode of entry or a means by which persons can ultimately end up joining the gang. When researchers were trying to figure out why a Jewish boy would join an Islamic gang like the Vice Lords on Chicago’s northside, it was determined by interviewing him that it all began when he had simply been purchasing drugs from the gang: but he became a regular, and enjoyed not just the drugs, but the subcultural life the gang represented, and over a period of time he simply joined when the opportunity was offered to him (Knox and Papachristos, 2002).
During the two months she spent with the gang, she had sexual relations with a number of the male gang members and this allowed her to have a kind of “gang associate” status with the gang. Providing sexual favors to the male gang members would get her killed by the female members of the gang.
One day she was “hanging out” with the gang and had apparently become over-confident about her “status” in the gang, and a “status-threat” situation (Short and Strodtbeck, 1965) arose. This happened when some of the regular female members of the gang were present, and when one female gang member made a remark to her to the effect “you is just a white ho’, you are a nobody”, and the white girl challenged the gang girl with a retort to the effect “well, the leader likes me more than you, so what does that say”. The gang girls had real gang status, the white teen had only an associate status: and she had just made a fatal mistake by insulting the regular female gang members (McWhirter, 1994).
The female gang members had the right, in their definition of the situation, to violently attack the girl because she had insulted their gang status. The assault began immediately, in which a number of the female gang members took part:
"On April 17, 1992, according to testimony in the trials, Mobley's gang tied and gagged Kristin Ponquinette in a basement garage, threatened her with a chain saw, chopped off her hair, beat her and locked her in a closet. Then they led her to a railroad bridge at 127th Street and Eggleston Avenue, where they smashed her over the head with a chunk of cement, wired a manhole cover to her feet and threw her into the Cal-Sag Channel. The body eventually broke loose from the manhole cover and was found floating miles downstream in Alsip nine days later by a Coast Guard boat" (Pelton, 1994, p. 6).
The case was cleared by arrests and convictions.
II. SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND EXPLOITATION AS A FUNCTION OF GANG ORGANIZATION ITSELF.
One scenario in which females are subjected to sexual violence and sexual exploitation occurs when this is a function goal attainment for the gang organization itself. Some sexual violence and sexual exploitation of females occurs as a logical progression of the coercive type of criminal organization we find in some gangs today. As criminal organizations, gangs are not and should not be expected to exemplify higher levels of moral development that would be illustrated by having a policy against sexism. Gangs for the most part are chauvinistic in culture and if any ethos can be said to characterize their gender relationships it would be an extreme form of hypermasculinity. Thus, it is violence and exploitation that is functional in someway for the gang, and it is openly approved of as such by the members of the gang. It is not a subrosa issue that is carried out individually by one member or two members, it is true collective behavior, where the sexual violence and exploitation of females is part and parcel of the gang culture, its values and norms and beliefs.
This pattern of sexual exploitation and sexual violence includes the little-researched issue of being “sexed in”, i.e., that for some females to become members of a male dominated gang, they would have to have sex with the male gang members. It is interesting to note that in the gang research arena there are those who clearly tend to study the gang as a problem of crime and violence, and there are others who study the gang to argue that society has over-reacted to gangs by excessively labeling them with attributions such as “the super predator”. Perhaps the most extensive work on the latter type of viewpoint on gangs is the work by McCorkle and Miethe, Panic: The Social Construction of the Street Gang Problem (2002).
Basically the McCorkle and Miethe (2002) book takes print journalists to task for portraying gang members as “trigger-happy sociopaths”. It extends the “moral panic” concept in sociology to say that American society has over-reacted to the gang problem. The book attacks with great vigor the kind of “bad rap” gangs get in America. But the book never attacks or questions the issue about gang sexual exploitation or sexual violence in the gang, the authors simply ignored this issue. Still, other research, like that by Miller (2001: pp. 139-140) does demonstrate that animosity is sometimes so strong between rival gangs, that in one rival female gang member’s case this meant being first physically assaulted by a number of female gang members and then being viciously raped and left for dead by their male counterparts. So we know this kind of sexual violence occurs, it is simply so difficult to systematically study. Being “sexed-in” to gang membership is not a status-enhancing admission, and it is further reasonable to believe that within the offender population, self-report methods may simply be biased downwards in gaining a true parameter of this factor. In other words, it may very well be the case that we are able to learn about some of these practices only through the courtroom testimony of victims or when the news media reports someone being killed in the process.
SEXED-IN TO THE MS-13
This story surfaced in August, 2002 when a seventeen year old female got more than she had bargained for by dabbling with gang membership. She had wanted to join the notorious Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) gang that was operating in her hometown of Manassas, Virginia. She was given the choice of a “beat-in” or to be sexed in. She chose the latter, not understanding how violent it would actually be.
While initially she had consented to be “sexed-in”, what she did not know was that four MS-13 members would do this repeatedly and violently over an extended period of time. So when the gang members did finally finish with her, she was so injured, humiliated, and traumatized that she contacted police.
The local police made two quick arrests: Reyes Avila-Villalta and Jose Hercules-Pineda and warrants were issued for two other members of the MS-13: Carlos Francisco Coreas-Melgar and Alfonso Oscar Rosales.
Offering young females the choice of being “Beat in” or “Sexed in” can be found in a wide number of different gangs throughout the USA. A similar case to the MS-13 story was reported in the Beloit Daily News when a local man claimed to be the “Governor” of the Elkhorn area in Wisconsin for the Gangster Disciples. This GD’s name was Markus W. Zielinski, from Dell Lake, Wisconsin, and he offered two teenage girls (13 and 14 years old) the same option: to be “beat in” or to be “sexed in”, where the sex would involve having sex with him and two other GD’s. They chose to be beaten in, but it got out of hand, and was reported to police. Zielinkski is then promptly arrested.
SURE YOU CAN JOIN, BUT LET US GANG RAPE YOUR GIRL FRIEND FIRST
Gang members present a collateral risk to anyone who associates with them; this includes everyone, police officers simply standing by gang members on the street, kids who just hang with gang members, and in some cases even dating gang members or those who want to join can be a very serious “risk”. Such was the case with Victor Garcia in Chicago when he wanted to join a gang. The gang knew he had an attractive girl friend. The gang was willing to make a deal with him. Eager to join the gang, he would “set up” his girl friend for a brutal gang rape from his new homies.
In June, 1992 Victor Garcia, age 17, was convinced that he could join the gang if the gang could have sex with his girlfriend. Garcia agreed with this unique arrangement for his gang initiation ceremony in Chicago. The girl was subsequently lured to a party where the gang members lay in wait. She was then physically assaulted and repeatedly raped by four gang members until the following day when she was let go (Roper, 1993: p. 11).
DORIS McLEOD 1974-1991: KILLED BY GANGSTER DISCIPLE JOSEPH WHITE
Doris McLeod indeed had a troubled past as a teenage girl. Her teen years were spent in various forms of foster care, until she ran away in 1991. She arrived by Greyhound Bus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Doris barely made it off the bus before being intercepted by Joseph White. White was a self-appointed “welcoming committee” for any young female he could get his hands on. Joseph White was a gang banger who wanted to be a Milwaukee pimp.
Thus, his efforts to befriend Doris were little more than a ruse for his larger plan which quickly began to unfold. He did offer Doris food, a place to stay, and all the benefits of his “connections” to the underworld in Milwaukee. He was, after all, a member of the local Gangster Disciples street gang.
The tendency exists in the gang world today where chapters of the Gangster Disciples formed outside of the original gang epicenter (Chicago), such gangs improvise and often modify their “gang literature”. Gang literature here refers to their code, their constitution and by-laws. In Joseph White’s faction of the Gangster Disciples (GD) there was a “rule” to the effect that any hooker who did not promptly pay up to a Gangster Disciple who was pimping her, that she should receive a “V-50" for this “violation”.
A “V-50" in this case meant 50 punches to the chest and head area. It was written down in the Milwaukee chapter “local rules” for the Gangster Disciples. It does not exist in Chicago where the Gangster Disciples were originally formed, before the Gangster Disciples rapidly spread to over thirty states in the 1990's. Thus, the gang rules that Joseph White lived by basically empowered him to do what he did.
Another pimp had told Joseph White that in his opinion little Doris McLeod is not going to make a very good prostitute. Doris did not like the work that she was compelled and coerced to engage in by wannabe pimp Joseph White. So White decided to pummel Doris, as his GD constitution advised, with numerous blows to the chest and head area.
So Joseph White decided that the girl needed an attitude adjustment, and he administered a “V-50" in the basement of an inner city house in Milwaukee. Doris did not survive the beating. She died from the beating. This case was featured on A&E’s “Cold Case Files”.
Joseph White then cut off her finger prints, and drove the body towards Madison, dumping it in an open field after also cutting off her hands. The hands were discovered, minus the finger prints, also in Dane County. Persistent investigators in Dane County eventually broke the case through posters and the media. White acted as his own lawyer at trial and was promptly convicted and is currently serving two sentences: first degree murder (life) and aggravated rape.
THE 39 GANG RAPES IN ALBUQUERQUE DURING 1998-1999
Here is a gang which innovated in its initiation ceremony. Historically such street gangs would have an initiation ceremony involving ritualized violence (a “beat in”) or engaging in violence against a rival gang or a similar “crime”, a new option was developed: gang rape. The initiate would put on his “props” (to look successful or middle class) and act like he was throwing an expensive party, giving away flyers at the malls and areas frequented by teenage girls, inviting them to a special “party”. When the girls would arrive at the party, one or more would be gang raped. A total of 39 teenage girls were reported to have been gang-raped in this fashion (http://americanpatrol.com/CRIME/NEWMEXICO/gangrapecoolparty041199.html).
The claim or belief was that these 39 rapes could be explained by a new type of gang initiation ceremony, giving it the appearance of being an urban legend. Victims were not cooperating with investigators, as they feared for their own safety and the lives of their family members. Thus, with no arrests or convictions it is not known whether this was a required ritual of gang initiation or whether it served some other purpose for the gang. While no one speculated about this at the time, “gang rape” videotapes could have been made which are then sold in the lucrative pornography business. “Gang rape” is a specific genre or fetish within hardcore pornography.
THE BEAT DOWN GIRLS: FROM VIDEO GAME TO “ACTING IT OUT”
Recently a group of teenage girls in Polk County, Florida became the equivalent of what some experts regard as a female gang, even though the life history of the gang lasted only about two weeks. They had a name to their collective group identity, they called themselves “The Beat Down Girls”. They liked to fight, particularly as a group, and were in the habit of starting confrontations that would lead to such fighting opportunities. They would beat other girls in their neighborhood. They had emulated what they learned on the video game “Beat Down”.
When the “Beat Down” computer game came out in 1999 it was criticized by groups like the Florida Gang Investigators Association (Atkins, 1999). Characters in the game include “The Don” who is an urban pimp, and a gangster, etc, so the gang includes challenges like recruiting new gang members, collecting your money from the prostitutes, etc. The contagion effect, or the copycat phenomenon, occurs when impressionable youths emulate what they see in the media. Such was, it seems, the origin of the “Beat Down Girls”. So, in this video game, gang-banging interacts with violence and pimping/prostitution.
As female gangs go, this one had a flash in the pan start and a quick wash-out ending. As one of the gang investigators who handled the case explained, they quickly became notorious in their one little neighborhood area for “beating the hell out of people”. But those people who were beaten quickly had parents in court filing for “orders of protection” against members of “The Beat Down Girls”. Within days after filing this kind of domestic violence “civil remedy”, the main cast of characters from “The Beat Down Girls” received subpoenas to appear in court. The judge told them “ladies do you see the two gentlemen in the back of the courtroom in black coats, those are police officers, they are here today because of you”.
The judge issued orders of protection, and ravaging violence from “The Beat Down Girls” quickly evaporated. In a 2003 follow-up inquiring about the current status of “The Beat Down Girls”, the “gang” had not resurfaced. Asked, further, if any of the members had gone on to other more mainstream street gangs, the investigator replied “no, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you might see them mud wrestling when they become of age”.
GANGSTER NIGHT: THE PRIVILEGES OF RANK
In a southern city far from the gang’s original epicenter, Chicago, the Gangster Disciples street gang was reported by one source to have a unique type of regular meeting. It was called “Gangster Night”. Only written evidence in the form of statements exists about this kind of gang meeting, as it was not known to exist in Chicago in the two only systematic studies undertaken on the Gangster Disciples (Knox, 1995; Papachristos, 2001). The “Gangster Night” function is, therefore, certainly not described inside any of the Chicago-original gang by-laws and its lengthy constitution. What is clear in the Gangster Disciple constitution and by-laws and their extensive collection of written memoranda and directives from their “King”, or “Chairman of the Board”, G.D. gang leader Larry Hoover, is that they do meet weekly, and it is mandatory to show up at these weekly “prayer meetings” (or face a violation), and, of course, also bring your weekly dues along (or face a violation for not paying dues as well). The GD’s gang engages in a lot of order maintenance behavior.
But here is a special kind of gang meeting that was being held in a city 1,000 miles away from Chicago. On “Gangster Night” the Gangster Disciple leadership were able to pick out a girl at the meeting, literally whatever girl they wanted, and do whatever they wanted to the girl until they are done with the girl. All the girls had to comply and do whatever they are told to do. Perhaps this particular faction of the Gangster Disciples had heard about the privileges of rank available to cult leader David Koresh in the Waco, Texas compound.
GANG RAPE AS A MALE GANG MEMBER HYPERMASCULINTITY FUNCTION: THE CASE OF THE MONGOLIAN BOYS SOCIETY
This gang came to the attention of authorities in October of 1999 when 23 of its members were arrested for a number of different “gang rapes” which occurred in 1998. While the rapes actually took place in a motel in Fresno, California, the gang involved was the “Mongolian Boys Society”. Fresno, California has a large number of Asian gangs. What the Mongolian Boys Society did was go to Fresno, California to vacation and party.
But in the party atmosphere, they lured three girls to their motel, and 23 of their gang members took turns raping the three girls. The “lures” used were common to the gang world: yes, we have lots of cocaine, we have whatever you want, good music, good food, a great motel.
And once the girls were in the spider web: they were given all the drugs they could consume, and then they were isolated, and systematically attacked for purposes of sexual violence.
In this kind of scenario, the “gang rape” is a hypermasculinity function, the idea is that you prove your manhood by violently assaulting a young girl. In the atmosphere of gang life, and its subcultural values, the gang members “take part” in this ritual because it shows they are “down with their gang nation”. They are “dedicated” to the group identity.
THE WOLF PACK GANG IN QUEBEC, CANADA
This story surfaced in late 2002 when eleven prominent Canadian older adult men, including a popular Quebec City radio host, were among those arrested for soliciting a juvenile prostitute. They had been involved in a juvenile prostitution ring that was operated by a street gang known as the “Wolf Pack”. The age range of the juvenile prostitutes was 14-17. The Wolf Pack gang had a systematic way of recruiting young female gang members and lavishing them with praise and gifts. The Wolf Pack gang also had a unique ability to penetrate and compromise some of the “higher society” in this Province in Canada.
The Wolf Pack gang method of operation for recruiting underage prostitutes was to throw parties and “scout” for candidates. Once they found someone who fit their profile, they would disclose their gang status, promise protection, and actually give a number of “goodies” and “props” to the young girls. The Wolf Pack gang could give these girls drugs, status, excitement, and at least the promise of protection. These were not welfare girls, these were girls from middle class family backgrounds. But impressed with the money, drugs, and attention, and the “lure” of gang excitement, a number of the juvenile females agreed to work for the gang as prostitutes. When they would be later interviewed by police in custody they would confess that they did it “for love of the gang” or because they had been threatened with violence from the gang if they did not continue what they had started. The gang was their pimp.
And the Wolf Pack gang made a lot of money. It focused on “deep pocket” clients who liked young girls. Among the social elite arrested were well known restauranteurs and businessmen such as:
* Radio talk show host, Robert Gilet.
* Jacques Racine, president of a chain of drug stores
* Charles Nourcy, owner of a chain of food stores
* Yvan Cloutier, ex-president of the Quebec Winter Carnival.
In addition to the wealthy businessmen already arrested and others like them under investigation, a total of 17 juveniles and nine adult members of the Wolf Pack gang were also arrested once this juvenile prostitution ring was broken up in December of 2002.
FORCED PROSTITUTION TO PAY OFF DRUG DEBTS TO THE GANG
One of our case studies in Chicago revealed the case where in some situations the gangs drug business becomes the basis for becoming involved in the prostitution business. The coerced or forced prostitution of females has one purpose: to allow the female drug addicts to pay off their drug debts to the gang. This particular case study was considered to have an extremely high level of validity as will be explained.
The prostitute used for this case study reported how she was in a phase of her career where she found it more profitable to rob her johns than to “turn tricks”. Her forte was robbing Hispanic men after they had become extremely intoxicated. She worked the Mexican bars in an area on 63rd Street South between California and Kedzie. When some of the men were in this extremely intoxicated state, she equated the ease of robbing them as equivalent to “tipping over cows”: “I was robbing em then, I was not trying to turn no dates, it was good money around there, when they get real drunk, all you had to do was trip them and they fall down, and take their money and run”.
The reason she did not actively “prowl” for “dates” in the Mexican bars was because there was a more organized kind of prostitution activity that went on there. As she described it: “a lot of the young girls would get strung out on PCP from the Latin Souls, what they do is start them smoking PCP and when the girls get strung out on it, they get some on credit, and they have to pay off the drug debt. So the gang would advocate for them, pimp them. The gang would go up into the Mexican bars and tell them they had a girl outside, see if anyone wanted to turn a date”.
This area of Chicago does have several Hispanic gangs in the vicinity, including the Latin Souls just to the east. So the “story” checks out regarding the identity of the specific gang involved. This would be a type of forced prostitution of a limited duration: once the young girl had enough money accumulated from “tricks”, she could pay off the gang, and perhaps get her “credit line” for drugs restored. This is a form of forced prostitution because failure to pay back the drug debt could mean facing summary execution from gangs involved in narcotics sales. So when a young girl who owes the gang money for unpaid drugs, there may be a strong element of coercion involved if they tell the girl “well, let’s go make some money then so you can pay us off”.
III. KIDNAPPING, SLAVERY, AND FORCED PROSTITUTION AS A GANG ENTERPRISE
This scenario involving sexual violence and sexual exploitation reflects an intentional income-producing crime motivation by the gang or its members, but involving a higher level of threat by encompassing the issues of kidnapping, slavery, and forced prostitution. To the extent that money can be made by gangs in the areas of commercial vice, then this thesis reveals a fatal flaw of logic in the argument by Moore (1978) that if we only legalized heroin this would eliminate gang violence in America. Heroin is not the only facet of the underground economy that gangs can compete for. Here we document some examples and patterns of the more organized forms of prostitution and gang involvement in patterns of sexual violence and the sexual exploitation of females.
In this kind of scenario, the gang will kill females who could potentially “put them away” through courtroom testimony. These kind of homicides may never be detected as homicides, because if the females are drug-abusers (as many are), the gang need only give them a classical “hot shot” and they die of an overdose. All the police find is another dead junkie on the street or in a home somewhere. It is reasonable to believe that gangs are able to accomplish this with relative ease and that therefore it does occur.
ASIAN GANGS AND ORGANIZED CRIME GROUPS INDICATE HIGH LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT IN ORGANIZED PROSTITUTION
Reliable investigative reports consistently point to Asian gangs and Asian organized crime groups that operate on U.S. soil as being involved in organized prostitution. A number of these different gangs can be identified here, including some of the methods of operation.
The kind of Asian gangs and Asian organized crime groups involved in organized prostitution include: Chinese triads (14K, United Bamboo, Sun Yee On, Wo Hop To) and Chinese tongs (On Leong, Fukien American, Hip Sing), as well as Chinese gangs (Ghost Shadows, Wah Ching, Fuk Ching, Fukienese Flying Dragons, and others); Vietnamese gangs (also good for rape); Korean gangs such as the Korean Killers, Korean Power, Green Dragons, and Korean Fuk Ching; and Japanese groups like the Boryokudan and Yakuza (http://www.earc.org/v2n141/Information5.shtml).
A typical method of operation is to set up massage parlors and exploit persons seeking to reside in the United States beyond the period allowed by their visa, such as foreign students. In a New Jersey case, one such prostitution operation used eleven different massage parlors. Asian women who were overstaying their visas were the main source of prostitutes. When the parlors were raided on December 3, 1998, the federal government recovered $350,000 in cash and $900,000 in forfeited assets, as well as a million dollars in back taxes when the manager of the operation, Yue Hwa Barnes, pleaded guilty on two counts. A popular method of operation is to offer a free ticket to the land of “opportunity” or “milk and honey”, and simply not explain all the details of the “pay back” until the young female arrives at the destination where she will be forced into prostitution and basically “held captive” until she earns the gang enough money. Still other gang operations simply forcibly kidnap their female victims for purposes of being sexual slaves.
THE ASIAN KING POSSE: 11 and 13 Year old American Girls Forced Into Prostitution
The Asian King Posse is a Hmong gang, an Asian gang. But like a lot of Asian gangs, very mobile, and quite entrepreneurial in nature. What is unique about this American street gang? It kidnaps girls, in this case from St. Paul, Minnesota, rapes and brutalizes them, and forces them into commercial prostitution in Detroit, Michigan. In late 1999, an Associated Press story covered this case where Kong Meng Kue, 24 years old at the time, was charged with two counts of kidnapping and two gang-related charges and held on $1 million bail in Ramsey County, Minnesota (St. Paul). In the ensuing investigation, eight Asian girls were identified who were kidnapped from Minnesota and Wisconsin and forced into commercial prostitution in the Detroit area for the Asian King Posse.
The Asian King Posse obviously had scouts like Kong Meng Kue who were ruthless predators. They knew “where to look”, they had the kind of psychopathic skills needed to turn on and off their criminal/pro-social intentions when they would routinely encounter a teenage female who was knowledgeable about the structure of social service programs for “teen runaways” in the city they were scouting in. They would collect their own “intelligence” on what our social work agencies were doing, and where these programs were located, and then like preparing for a robbery or burglary they would “case the joint out”. They looked at any of the shelters for Asian runaways. And when they found what they were looking for, they corrupted them, and then kidnapped them. The Asian King Posse had all the drugs the girls needed, and the theory was keep them hooked on drugs, and keep them working as prostitutes the rest of their lives. The message from this gang is if you run a “drop in center” or “refuge/safe house” for “at-risk” teens: remember you will have gangs like the Asian King Posse that watch who comes in and out of your program. They will be outside waiting. Such street gangs with an interest in commercial vice will identify “group homes” and other “care centers”, any social service agency public or private which provides services to female “runaways”, places where these gangs might find vulnerable targets, and like the predators they are, they will “move in” for the kill.
THE SHEBOYGAN, WISCONSIN “BLOODS 116" GANG
The “Bloods 116" gang was reported in the media as the gang involved that kidnapped four girls from Wisconsin. We will use the language used in the print media (Kresnak and Hopgood, 1999), but we need to point out it was really the Asian King Posse. Please note that “116" is a gang code: 1=A, 11=K, 16=P thus in “gang code” this is really “A.K.P.” or Asian King Posse. The female kidnapped from Sheboygan on September 18th, 1999 who was raped by ten people, was also in the same Detroit home (17300 Waltham) as these three other young girls kidnapped from Wisconsin.
This case surfaced in October, 1999 when a gang in Sheboygan, Wisconsin known as the “Bloods 116" were busted for a series of interstate gang rapes. The intent was to be able to sell the girls into the lucrative Detroit, Michigan prostitution market. The Bloods 116 Gang was able to use the “party lure” as a method of setting the “trap” for young vulnerable teenage girls. This was billed as a “gangsta rap” party, with all the drugs you needed. The party lived up to the expectation, a kind of “private rave party”. Teenage girls did show up, including three underage teenage females from the Hmong community in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
So, the Bloods 116 gang throws a party. They freely distribute alcohol and drugs, and give the appearance of being the friendliest gangsters in the world. They hand out flyers like the rave technique to young girls on the street. Some are stupid enough to show up, and dumber yet to use the party favors. When they are so high on drugs and alcohol they do not know any better, the next thing they know, they are on the road headed to Detroit, Michigan. Along the way the gang members repeatedly rape the three teens. And once in Detroit, Michigan, they begin their forced servitude to the gang, where as many as 20 men raped them over a two-day period. One was able to escape and flag down a police officer in the area on October 5th, 1999; the other three teen captives were rescued when someone called 911 on Oct. 6th, 1999.
The Hmong teens then report to the police that five members of the Bloods 116 had kidnapped them and they were gang raped (10 to 20 times), and several members of the gang were promptly arrested by the Detroit Police Department, while they slept in bed about noon time. Arrested were Ladsamee Lee and Vang Yee Leng Chang, along with three juvenile members of the gang who attended Osborn High School.
No agency systematically “debriefs” gangs like this so we have no idea how many juveniles in America have been routinely kidnapped and forced into commercial prostitution.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
It is not an “urban legend”, it is not a social fiction, and it is not a falsified social construction of the mass media or moral crusaders to assert that sexual violence and sexual exploitation are associated with gangs and gang members. Much evidence exists demonstrating the fact that sexual violence and sexual exploitation involving female victims occurs as a result of gangs and gang members.
Gangs are hard enough to study and research. Females involved with gangs in a membership or associational pattern are even harder to research as they represent but a small percentage of the overall gang problem in America. Studying the issues of sexual violence and sexual exploitation within this smaller population therefore poses a formidable challenge. It is reasonable, therefore, that absent a well-funded systematic large-scale investigation, that much of the information available may be that which surfaces in a courtroom or when someone has to be buried.
Further, this sexual violence and sexual exploitation in gangs or from gang members takes several different forms: (1) the risky behavior that occurs simply by associating with or interacting with gangs and gang members, (2) the behavior of the gang itself as an organization when it is motivated by the illegal income from prostitution or when it has aberrant practices within its cultural tradition, and (3) the tendency where some gangs engage in kidnapping, slavery, and forced prostitution as way to build their financial empire.
Thus, there are many different reasons why females become victims of sexual violence or why they become sexually exploited by gangs and gang members.
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