Gangs in the United States include several types of groups, including national street gangs, local street gangs, prison gangs, motorcycle gangs, and ethnic and organized crime gangs. Approximately 1.4 million people were part of gangs as of 2011, and more than 33,000 gangs were active in the United States.
Many American gangs began, and still exist, in urban areas. In many cases, national street gangs originated in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York, and they later migrated to other American cities such as Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, and Detroit.
Raymond Lee Washington (August 14, 1953 – August 9, 1979) was the original founder of the South Central Los Angeles street gang the Crips.
Washington is believed to have initially formed the Baby Avenues street gang, which became the Avenue Cribs before the name evolved into the Crips, because he wanted to form a gang that could protect their territory in South Central and prevent criminal and more violent gangs outside the territory.
Crime in the United States is described by annual Uniform Crime Reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and by annual National Crime Victimization Surveys by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In addition to the primary Uniform Crime Report known as Crime in the United States, the FBI publishes annual reports on hate crimes and on the status of law enforcement in the United States, and its definitions of crime are considered standard by many American law enforcement agencies. According to the FBI, index crime in the United States includes violent crime and property crime. Violent crime consists of four criminal offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; property crime consists of burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
Crime rates have varied over time in the United States. American crime rates generally rose after World War II, and peaked between the 1970s and early 1990s. Since the early 1990s, crime has declined in the United States, and current crime rates are approximately the same as those of the 1960s.
Organized crime, Organised crime, and often criminal organizations are a group of terms which categorise transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals, who intend to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated. Sometimes criminal organizations force people to do business with them, as when a gang extorts money from shopkeepers for so-called "protection". Gangs may become disciplined enough to be considered organized. An organized gang or criminal set can also be referred to as a mob.
Other organizations like, States, the Army, Police, Governments and Corporations may sometimes use organized crime methods to conduct their business, but their powers derive from their status as formal social institutions. There is a tendency to distinguish organized crime from other forms of crimes, such as, white-collar crime, financial crimes, political crimes, war crime, state crimes and treason. This distinction is not always apparent and the academic debate is ongoing. For example, in failed states that can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty, organised crime, governance and war are often complimentary to each other. The term Parliamentary Mafiocracy is often attributed to democratic countries whose political, social and economic institutions are under the control of few families and business oligarchs.