Criminal Activity

The 254 municipalities in New Jersey that reported a gang presence in 2010 were asked to provide information about the overall criminal activity of the gangs present in their jurisdiction. The categories of these crimes were broken down into four categories: violent, theft, drugs and miscellaneous crimes.

Violent Crimes

This is a criminal offense that involves the use, or threat, of force or violence. Examples of these offenses are:

More than half (54%) of the 1,575 gangs in New Jersey were not reported to be associated with any sort of violent crime. Of the violent crimes that were reported, assaults (39%) and


aggravated assaults (27%) were the two most frequently cited and attributed to gang members. Far smaller proportions of municipalities mentioned gang involvement in attempted homicide (8% of gangs) and homicide (4%) (Figure A).

The question asked about violent crime in the 2007 Gang Survey was only regarding the 14 most prevalent gangs within a municipality’s jurisdiction, while in the 2010 survey, municipalities were asked about all gangs within their jurisdiction. Since the questions are asking two different questions, the results are not strictly comparable unless the data from the 2007 gang survey is looked at through a gang-centric perspective. In that case, in the 2007 survey, assault (50% of the state’s top 14 gangs) and aggravated assault (34%) were also the most common violent crimes attributed to gang members. And again, nearly half (48%) of these top 14 gangs were not reported to have engaged in any sort of violent crime in 2007. The responses also indicated the Bloods were more likely to commit violent crimes than any of the other gangs in the top 14. Although Bloods made up just over a quarter (24%) of the overall 2007 gang sample, they committed 35% of the assaults, 37% of aggravated assaults and 58% of homicides reported by all of the top 14 gangs combined.

Figure A.

Violent Crimes

"Did you know about half (51%) of gangs identified by municipalities were not reported to be involved in drug distribution?"

Theft Crimes

This is when someone intentionally and unlawfully takes property that does not belong to them. Examples of theft crimes are: robbery, residential burglary, vehicle theft, shoplifting, stolen property distribution, commercial burglary, bank fraud, credit card fraud, extortion, cargo theft, insurance fraud, cyber crime, tax fraud, embezzlement, healthcare fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud and telecom fraud.

Of the 25% of gangs reportedly involved in theft, the four theft crimes most frequently cited by municipal police agencies were: robbery (70% of these gangs), burglary (42%), vehicle theft (33%), and shoplifting (31%) (Figure B).

These crimes typically require little planning and few resources, and are thus considered ‘impulse crimes’ or ‘crimes of opportunity.’


Almost two-thirds (62%) of all 1,575 gangs were not reported to be involved in any type of theft crimes. For the 565 gangs that were reported to be involved in theft crime activity, two-thirds (68%) were only engaged in one or two types of these activities.

Fraud and technology-based crimes received exceedingly few mentions or none at all. Out of the original list of theft crimes, municipal police agencies reported no gang involvement in five offenses: embezzlement, healthcare fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, or telecommunications fraud. However, these more complex theft crimes are less likely to be reported by victims to municipal police agencies than types of crime which have a direct and visible impact on people and property. It is therefore possible that gangs may be committing unreported fraud and technology-based crimes.

As with violent crime, the 2007 survey asked specifically about the state’s 14 most prevalent gangs. Using the data from both years, only robbery showed an increase in activity among the four most commonly reported theft offenses.

Figure B.

Theft Crimes


Drug Trafficking Crimes

The 2010 Gang Survey asked municipal police agencies about the drug trafficking activity of each gang within their jurisdiction. They were asked to identify gangs’ distribution levels --- retail, mid-level, or wholesale--- in the chain of illegal commerce for six main drug types: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and diverted prescription legend drugs (PLD’s). Responses were collected on a per-gang and per-town basis. In many instances, survey respondents did not provide an answer to questions about specific types of drug trafficking, and so ‘no answer’ responses have been combined with ‘don’t know’ responses.



Out of the 28% of gangs who were reported to be involved in drug distribution, four in ten of these gangs were reported to have been involved in one or more levels of marijuana sales. About 82% of gangs involved in marijuana trafficking were linked to selling at a retail level, and 42% dealt in mid-level (Figure C).

While marijuana distribution is reported in more than two-thirds of the towns where gangs are present, certain gangs


appear more heavily involved in marijuana trafficking than others. For example, there is marijuana trafficking in each of the towns where these Bloods sets are present: D-Block Bloods (100% of their towns), Brick City Brims (80%), Neighborhood Bloods (72%), 456 Piru (71%), Sex Money Murder (70%), MOB Piru (69%), Nine-Trey (67%), and Piru Bloods (67%).

Figure C.

Marijuana Market Levels


A third (33%) of all gangs in New Jersey are not involved in the cocaine business, and another third (30%) are not known to be involved. As was the case with the marijuana market, the vast majority (80%) of cocaine trafficking gangs are present in the retail sector of the business, and almost half (49%) are active in mid-level distribution of cocaine (Figure D).


Bloods gang sets are also heavily involved in cocaine distribution, although to a somewhat lesser extent than in the marijuana market. Five Bloods sets were reported active in cocaine trafficking in two-thirds or more of the towns where their presence is reported: Cedar Block Piru (80% of their towns), 456 Piru (71%), Sex Money Murder (70%), 464 Insane Mob Gangstas (67%), and D Block Bloods (67%).

Figure D.

Cocaine Market Levels


Almost three-quarters of New Jersey gangs have either no involvement in heroin trafficking (35%), or aren’t known to be involved (38%). But 28% of New Jersey gangs are reportedly active in some aspect of the heroin business, mostly as retailers (Figure E). Gang involvement in heroin trafficking activity is reported in every New Jersey county except Sussex County, further a fifth (19%) of all gangs active in heroin distribution are located in Essex County, more than double the proportion represented by any other single county.


Once again, Bloods gang sets dominate the state’s heroin marketplace. More than a quarter (28%) of the gangs reportedly active in heroin distribution belong to one of the state’s three largest Bloods sets: Sex Money Murder (10% of all gangs in the heroin business), Nine-Trey (9%), or G-Shine (8%). Each of these three sets is present in several municipalities that report their involvement in wholesale and mid-level heroin trafficking in addition to retail sales. As many as 50 smaller Bloods sets are also actively involved in heroin sales.

Figure E.

Heroin Market Levels

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Compared with the data about street gang presence in the marijuana, cocaine and heroin markets, street gang participation in ecstasy is uncommon, but not exactly rare. Eighty-eight percent of gangs in New Jersey have no


involvement in ecstasy trafficking. Although a handful of gangs distribute ecstasy tablets at the wholesale level, the majority of gangs involved are limited to selling retail quantities (Figure F).

Figure F.

Ecstasy Market Levels


According to the respondents of the 2010 survey, gang-involvement in the methamphetamine market is relatively non-existent. Statewide, only 30 gangs were reportedly involved in


meth trafficking. Of these 30 gangs, one-third of them were affiliated with the Pagans Motorcycle Club, and the majority (60%) of meth trafficking reported was strictly on a retail level (Figure G).

Figure G.

Methamphetamine Market Levels

Prescription Legend Drugs (PLDs)

Statewide, 135 gangs were reportedly involved in PLD distribution, which is roughly 9% of all gangs in New Jersey. Of these 135 gangs, 69% are active on a strictly retail level, while 8% are involved in an all-encompassing top-to-bottom distribution (Figure H).


Bloods and Crips sets are the predominant street gang presence in the PLD black market. Almost two-thirds (62%) of gangs involved in PLD distribution are Bloods sets, and a fifth (20%) were Crips sets.

Figure H.

Prescription Market Levels

Miscellaneous Crime

The survey asked about gang involvement in a wide variety of miscellaneous crimes: bribery, counterfeit currency, counterfeit merchandise, cyber-gambling, document fraud, human trafficking, illegal casinos, loansharking, money laundering, official corruption, policy betting, sports betting, prostitution, weapons trafficking, and witness tampering.

Statewide, 70% of gangs in New Jersey had no participation in these types of organized crime. Some lesser examples include: witness tampering (7%), prostitution (4%), and counterfeit currency (3%). All other crimes constituted less than one percent of survey responses (Figure I).

Figure I.

Miscellaneous Crimes