The Role of Females in a Gang Structure

TheRole of Females in a Gang Structure

Tableof Contents

Abstract 3

Introduction 4

Dutiesof Females in Gangs 4

Supportother gang members 4

Gatherinformation on behalf of their groups 5

Drugsand weapon smuggling 5

Moneylaundering 6

Recruitingmembers 6

Victimizationof women in gangs 7

Conclusion 7

References 8


Inthe past decades, experts on criminal behavior had failed to includethe role of women in their studies. On the other hand, their malecounterparts were always given priority by the press and varioussocial workers reporting on crime. Consequently, the societyunderestimated the duties of females in gangs across the world sincethe media had always presented them as less valuable members.However, women have become a crucial role in the modern-day criminalorganization as they are now tasked with carrying weapons and drugs(Gunnison, Bernat &amp Goodstein, 2016). Moreover, various studieson the youth and crime have shown that female participation inorganized crime involves recruiting and training new members into thegroups. Besides, the changing labor markets and familyresponsibilities have created a leadership position for the femalesin the gang structure in the recent years. As a result, more womenhave continued to venture into the illegal business as they hope togain more influence and higher ranks within their organizations(Gunnison, Bernat &amp Goodstein, 2016). Accordingly, this articlewill discuss the role of females in gang structure specifically theirresponsibilities in drugs trafficking, weapon smuggling, and moneylaundering.

TheRole of Females in a Gang Structure

Theground for understanding the functions of females in criminalorganization originates from the distinction of their activities fromthose carried out by the male offenders. Theoretically, many lawenforcement agencies in the world believe that crime is dominated bymen. Even so, studies related to criminal groups have takenconsiderable steps in elaborating the behavior of women in gangs(Gunnison, Bernat &amp Goodstein, 2016). Understanding the role offemale criminals has become significant given the rise in thepopulation of women inmates, which has raised social concerns. On theother hand, the increasing cases of poor parenting, drug abuse, andfinancial setbacks have propelled women to venture into illicitactivities (Gunnison, Bernat &amp Goodstein, 2016). According tostudies on illegal conduct, male criminals tend to engage invandalism and violence including murder. Conversely, women tend tohave a different behavior pattern as explained by the media who havetried to shed light on the matter (Gunnison, Bernat &amp Goodstein,2016). Accordingly, some people believe that being in gangs is theonly way to earn an income, especially if they lack the education andexpertise to get meaningful employment, which has prompted many younggirls to engage in money laundering, providing support for othermembers, initiation duties, weapon smuggling, and drug trafficking.

Dutiesof Females in Gangs

  1. Supporting other gang members

Examinationsof the changing trends in the criminal organizations show that womenare supposed to have dual responsibilities within their gangs(Cawley, 2013). The female members are expected to perform similartasks as their male colleagues, which require them to have comparablecharacteristics and roles such as wearing men’s clothing andenduring violence. On the other hand, they are involved in takingcare of the other members by carrying out tasks such as cooking andcleaning (Cawley, 2013). Besides, the females have a responsibilityto provide support for their male counterparts. As a result, somewomen in organized crime tend to live as law abiding citizens toprotect their colleagues from being discovered by the policeofficers. For instance, some of the female members contribute towardssocial events and even attending neighborhood meetings to avoiddetection (Gunnison, Bernat &amp Goodstein, 2016).

  1. Gathering information on behalf of their group

Conversely,the females follow orders by forming relationships with people whoare perceived to be a threat to the organization. Furthermore, thewomen in organized crime exchange information with the society byacting as the cover-ups while other group members devise plans fortheir gang activities (Gunnison, Bernat &amp Goodstein, 2016). Forexample, the women are used to spy on prospective clients and collectrelevant information about them. Then again, they form relationshipswith rival gang members to learn about their operations. Thus, theygather useful data that their group can use to extort other criminalorganizations, minimize competition, or exert authority (Gunnison,Bernat &amp Goodstein, 2016). As noted by the law enforcementagencies, the women use advanced forms of communication such asencrypted social media accounts to spread propaganda and obtainfeedback about possible targets. Consequently, these female offenderswork towards promoting the interests of the entire organizationbecause they contribute significantly to decision-making and thegroup’s involvement in illegal activities (Gunnison, Bernat &ampGoodstein, 2016).

  1. Drugs and weapon smuggling

Onthe other hand, the females are used to transport weapons and drugsillegally. According to the United States and Mexico borderofficials, women smuggle rounds of ammunition and illegal substancesthrough the unauthorized border crossings to various locations withinthe America streets (Taylor, 2011). For example, drug cartels use thefemale colleagues as means of transportation by swallowing pills ofnarcotics and later vomiting them upon arrival at the destination.The current trend has been prompted by the notion that women appearless suspicious as compared to the men in the eyes of the lawenforcement officers (Taylor, 2011).

  1. Money laundering

Additionally,female criminals engage in white collar offenses such as moneylaundering activities (Taylor, 2011). According to InternationalMonetary Fund officials, most drug cartels prefer to use the women tolaunder their illegal finances. According to the surveys, theseoffenders collect money from the sale of drugs and deposit in variousbank accounts in Mexico and the United States. However, this has alsoput the female criminals’ life at greater risk as opposed to theirmale counterparts. Hence, it has increased the number of women whohave been arrested and convicted for gang-related activities. Forexample, in Guatemala, the population of female prisoners has doubleddue to the increased role of females in criminal organizations(Cawley, 2013).

  1. Recruiting new members

Today,women are making essential contributions to their gangs thus, theyare given roles of recruiting new members. Females are considered tohave better interpersonal skills as compared to the men (Taylor,2011). Therefore, they are responsible for attracting young adultsinto the gangs and facilitating their initiation process. A criminalorganization can assume a simple or complicated structure dependingon the size, location, and the number of competitors (Taylor, 2011).For example, the modern-day gangs are organized in a way that ensuresevery associate is tasked with specific duties. However, in allcriminal organizations, new members are usually subjected to arecruitment process despite the gang’s structure. During theceremony, the newcomer has to undergo several challenges such asfighting other group members to prove his or her capabilities andloyalty. Accordingly, it is the duty of the women to ensure that theprocess is completed successfully (Taylor, 2011).

Victimizationof women in gangs

Nevertheless,the changes in the responsibilities given to females in organizedcrimes have not eliminated the challenges they face as they try todemonstrate their commitment and loyalty. According to the FBIdatabases, female criminals are frequently victimized by their malecolleagues (Van &amp Bartollas, 2011). The media has portrayedarising cases of victimization including forceful drug abuse toguarantee that the members remain dependent on their gang. Thefemales have also been sold into prostitution to bring in money forfunding the operation of their group’s functions (Van &ampBartollas, 2011). Then again, some people perceive women involvementin criminal organizations as a significant rite of passage for theyoung girls. Therefore, the female members are subjected to violentphysical and sexual abuse to test their devotion to the group. Forexample, the women are involved in multiple sexual activities withvarious partners. Nonetheless, the females who are family members orpartners to an associate in the gang are usually treated with morerespect, but it does not eliminate the issues of unfair treatment(Van &amp Bartollas, 2011).


Inthe modern society, the participation of females in gangs increaseddue to numerous problems such as poverty, lack of education, andunemployment. Therefore, the media and law enforcement agencies haveacquired valuable data on women in organized criminal activities,which shows that their roles have changed significantly. The shift ofresponsibilities has been closely associated with the changing labormarkets and responsibilities in the families. Therefore, the femalemembers are engaged in money laundering and drug trade because thepolice officers do not easily target them as compared to the maleoffenders. Besides, women are actively involved in the recruitmentprocess since they are more likely to attract young people to jointhe group. Other responsibilities include gathering valuableinformation about potential clients and competing gangs.Additionally, they have been used by the men to carry out otherchores such as cooking and cleaning. However, these women have beensubjected to various forms of victimization such as physical andsexual assaults, which have sometimes resulted in their death. Thus,some females have been brave enough to collaborate with the lawenforcement officials in convicting some of their colleagues involvedin illegal activities while others decide to leave the groupaltogether. Then again, the fear of victimization makes it even morechallenging for some former female criminals to rebuild their livespositively.


Cawley,M. (2013). The Mara women: gender roles in CentAm street gangs.InsightCrime.Retrieved from

Gunnison,E., Bernat, F. P., &amp Goodstein, L. (2017). Women,crime, and justice: Balancing the scales.Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley &amp Sons.

Taylor,C. S. (2011). Girls,Gangs, Women and Drugs.East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

Van,W. K. S., &amp Bartollas, C. (2011). Womenand the criminal justice system.Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.