Gang members and drug dealers are beginning to convert to pimping because they view it as easy and more profitable industry with potentially lower prison sentence[s] if convicted. The ‘Game’ is less dangerous for an individual who becomes a pimp when compared to gang or drug activity. Commercial sexual exploitation provides relatively low risks and high profits, allowing the trade of human beings to increasingly replace the trafficking or trade of drugs and weapons as the preferred activity of criminal networks. “Gangs need money to survive, and money equates to power and respect. While selling drugs may be lucrative for a gang, this activity often carries a significant risk as stiff legal penalties and harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws exist”. While pimping, gang members are still able to make money while the prostitutes bear the majority of the risk. Gang members, drug dealers and other criminal activity personnel switch to prostitution because there is someone else receiving the risk for them, allowing pimps to stay out of trouble.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors reports that street gangs have embraced pimping as ‘the new crack,’ rivaling drug sales as one of their major sources of funding. Engaging in pimping involves less risk and overhead than dealing dope. The reason for such a change is purely economic states FBI Task Force Officer Ryan Larson. “From the pimps’ perspective,” Officer Larson explains, “I sell crack, I sell it, it’s gone. I sell a girl, she’s still there…The average pimp can make $18,000 a month for two girls doing two dates a day”. Simply put, pimping is attractive because it is lucrative and not particularly risky. A pimp receives an increase in profits and money if [s]he makes the switch from a gang or dealing drugs.
Moreover, pimping allows gangs to recruit younger members into the gangs while increasing the status of the gang within the community, particularly other gangs. Pimping is a financial income that allows gang members to buy material possessions such as cars, clothes and weapons. The gangs in Sacramento, CA, for example, use the money earned by prostitutes to get by through putting a roof over their heads or providing food and clothes. Gangs require members to engage in sex for money or other services as a part of the initiation process. The gang mentality embraces the concept of ‘family’, meaning that gangs are close knit. Pimps within a gang environment will trick prostitutes into believing the former needs them, thereby ensuring a false sense of pimp dependency on the prostitute. A prostitute will fall prey to this false sense of empowerment thus prostituting him or herself for the pimp as [s]he believes that this is the only means of survival.
Author’s Note: (c) Anna Rutherford Engel. Please site if quoting any of my writing. If you would like to know which studies or individuals I am citing in my work, please contact me and I will send you those sources. Additionally, contact me if you would like my research as a whole.