The Changing Face of Gangs and Criminal Organizations

The Changing Face of Gangs and Criminal Organizations
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2020-01-23
Unit 1 Slide Deck: The Changing Face of Gangs and Criminal Organizations
Unit 2 Workbook: The Changing Face of Gangs and Criminal Organizations
Unit 3 Recording: The Changing Face of Gangs and Criminal Organizations

It can be tricky to Investigate and prosecute gang crimes. Mere hearsay that a gang is involved in some incident is not enough to prove that the crime is actually gang-related. To make things even more challenging, gangs are evolving. From traditional street gangs that operate within territories bound by a common background, the newer versions of gangs exist for more self-serving reasons.

To unpack the changing face of gangs and how gang-related cases are investigated and prosecuted are Mike Gingold and Shannon Struble. Mike is the Gang Bureau Chief of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office which he’s been with for  24 years. He’s been assigned to different posts including Vehicular Crimes, Capital Litigation, and Gangs. Meanwhile, Shannon is a Prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office where she’s served for 5 years handling gang cases. She’s named Gang Prosecutor of the Year for 2019 by the Arizona Gang Investigator’s Association.

Specifics discussed in this webinar are:

  • How criminal street gangs and gang members are legally defined in Arizona.
  • Traditional street gangs that are built on a shared background of the members and operate by protecting and maintaining the group’s interests.
  • Hybrid gangs that are more flexible on their membership and motivated by personal agenda.
  • Qualities observed in hybrid gangs and their operation like faster escalation in violence, diverse members, and their tendency to change names, members, and base of operations.
  • The challenges that law enforcement and prosecution encounter when dealing with hybrid crimes.
    • Law enforcement’s reactionary approach as driven by the nature of hybrid gangs.
    • Constant movement and change in names, members, and affiliations which makes tracking and documenting difficult.
    • Proving how activities and crime can benefit the gang.
  • Typical criminal activities that hybrid gangs are involved in.
  • A look into four of Arizona’s hybrid gangs – their history, membership, link to traditional gangs, and criminal activities.
  • Investigative tools to leverage when working on gang cases and how to document and prove gang links of members.
  • How a complete hybrid gang investigation contributes to keeping communities safe and aids future investigations.
  • The different Arizona gang-related statutes:
    • Conditions that encompass participation in a criminal street gang and assisting one.
    • Threatening or intimidating, what these constitute, and how it becomes a part of gang activity.
    • Penalty enhancements for sentencing that may be applied once proven that an individual has participated in or assisted a street gang.

Questions raised by the audience were on:

  • Gang involvement in white-collar crimes such as fraud schemes and identity theft.
  • The movement of gang members from one type of gang to another.
  • Documenting an individual who identifies to be affiliated with both a traditional gang and a hybrid gang.
  • Special considerations for juveniles involved in gangs.
  • Proving how a certain activity or crime benefits a gang.
  • The nature of prison gangs and how they operate.
  • Hybrid gangs with international links.


This is the second of a 3-part Series on Gang-Related Crime.  The other webinars in this series include:


Audience Comments:

  • “Very interesting topic – fortunately, being from Maine, this was a new term of “Hybrid Gang” for me… But I am sure it will make its way here over the next few years. Thank you for the opportunity to learn and be ahead of the curve on this subject.” — Steve
  • “The entire training was very valuable; however the hybrid gang section was very informative.” — Ann Marie
  • “I loved the in-depth info on the Hybrid gangs and how they gave examples of the ones in their city and what crimes they committed and how they came to be.” — Jessica
  • “I learned that our state is exporting hybrid gang members. I am in Tennessee and experiencing a definite shift in more Robbery, Violence by Juveniles and adult involvement with their juveniles so mostly it reinforced what we are seeing is a trend nationally.” — Katherine
  • “Learning about the similarities between US and Canadian gangs. Learning how prosecutors view these issues is also helpful. It provides a more complete view of the entire justice process.” — Nathan


Additional Resources
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