Four years ago, Claudia Wallace’s brother Hugo was kidnapped and murdered by a Mexican gang. Claudia, her husband, and her children now live behind large concrete walls. She and her family have been threatened and shot at by the gang. This is just one example of gangs’ effect on society. Gangs should be eliminated entirely. What exactly is a gang? How did gangs originate in Mexico and how long have they existed?
A gang is an organized group of criminals that band together for mutual protection, and perform criminal acts for profit. Mexican gangs originated in the late 19th century, because groups of poor people needed a source of money and fellowship that was devoid in their own family. In addition, these groups of underprivileged people fought each other over the customers that bought drugs, routes for transporting drugs, modes of transport, drug sources, and hit men. Eventually, the fighting led to the formation of allies, now known as gangs, in which resources were shared by all members. The Gulf Cartel, located in Reynosa, Mexico, is an example of a modern gang. In this gang, trade routes on the West Coast are used to illegally smuggle drugs; they travel all the way to California. On the other hand, Arrellano Felix of Tijuana uses trade routes in
Central Mexico that travel to Texas; they wouldn’t dare encroach on the Gulf Cartel’s trade routes, because it could lead to war between the gangs. There are many reasons why participation in a gang and a drug cartel’s employment of a gang constitute mental, modern day slavery.
Members of a gang are often forced to perform tasks they do not want to do, sometimes as part of initiation, or the entrance into a gang. These tasks can include robbery, murder, and kidnapping, or sexual intercourse for women. Gangs often engage with violence with other gangs, and this is a threat to gang members’ health. Once inside a gang, it is almost impossible to get out of it. If gang leaders discover that a member tried to desert the gang, consequences can be a beating, death, or public humiliation. Members of a gang can get in trouble with the law for drug possession, drug sales or drug trafficking, racketeering, murder, theft, or kidnapping. All these charges necessitate a jail sentence. Members of a gang can develop drug addictions and sexually-transmitted diseases. Women in gangs can become pregnant with unwanted children. Anyone ever kidnapped by a gang can suffer from trauma and therefore suffers from mental slavery. Gangs as a whole suffer from mental slavery. They are often hired by drug cartels or the Mexican Mafia to execute high profile drug deals or to kill a certain person. If hired by a drug cartel, consequences for gangs who do not fulfill their promises are war or death. Can gangs in Mexico be eradicated?
Anti-gang organizations could be established in the community. These organizations could not only provide a source of family, protection, love, and good emotions, but discourage joining gangs as well. An example of this type of organization that already exists is called “2nd Call”, whose objective is to help aid those living in impoverished communities. In addition, social intervention agencies could evaluate those already involved in gangs. Private psychologists could offer advice and discuss gang members’ feelings. The provision of opportunities in the community, including jobs, volunteer work, sports teams, and college scholarships, is essential for students in deprived communities. Increased police involvement against gang-related behavior and anything that causes kids to join will help too.
Federal legislation in Mexico should crack down on gangs, mainly by spending more of taxpayers’ dollars on gang prevention. Consequences should be harsher for those affiliated with gangs. Most of all, it is up to you to choose not to join a gang. After all, you would not want to end up like Claudia Wallace-hiding behind a concrete wall.
1. Brosnan, Greg and Emmott, Robin. “Beating Sinaloa drug gangs key for Mexico, United States say.” March 16, 2010. www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N15481891.
2. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
3. Wagner, Rob. “The History of Gangs in Mexico.” March 16, 2010. www.ehow.com/about_5208713_history-gangs-Mexico.html.
4. Lustig, Robert. “Taking on Mexico’s kidnap gangs.” March 16, 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8132067.htm.
5. Unknown. “The Mission Statement of 2nd Call.” March 24, 2010. http://www.2ndcall.org.