June 1992

Gangs, Drugs, and Homicide in Los Angeles

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Injury Control, National Center for Environmental Health and Injury Control, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, US Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA 30333.

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(6):683-687. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160180041014

• Objective.  —To assess the theory that youth homicides in Los Angeles, Calif, are largely attributable to gang involvement in the trafficking or use of drugs.

Design, Setting, and Participants.  —First, we analyzed all homicides in a police database that occurred in Los Angeles between January 1, 1986, and August 31, 1988, to examine the association between gang activity and narcotic use and trafficking. Second, we used detailed data from police files to examine the same associations for a subset of homicides in south central Los Angeles. Third, we investigated the association between gang homicide victimization and victim cocaine use for all 1987 Los Angeles homicides. Finally, we compared narcotics arrest histories for gang homicide victims with histories for other homicide victims.

Results.  —Gang-motivated homicides were less likely than other homicides to involve narcotics, and narcotics-motivated homicides were less likely to involve a gang member. Victims of gang-motivated homicides in 1987 were less likely than other homicide victims to have detectable levels of blood cocaine. Finally, young victims of gang-involved homicide were no more likely to have a history of narcotics arrests than other victims.

Conclusions.  —Our investigation does not support the theory that a substantial proportion of homicides are attributable to gang involvement in narcotics trafficking.(AJDC. 1992;146:683-687)