The most common definition of the word gang refers to street gangs, groups who take over territory in a particular city for the purpose of drug sales, "personal protection" (in fact extortion), or lack of something better to do. Gangs have been known to claim colors such as red or blue, a trend that started as far back as the late 1700s and early 1800s with Mexican banditos and roving marauders in the southwest/western United States.
Gangs often spread by a parent or family moving out of the gang neighborhood, and the children taking the gang culture and lore with them to a new area and recruiting new members for their old gang. This concept has been referred to as satellite gangs. Some offshoots of the original Norteņo/Sureņo concept include Crips and the Bloods, African American gang members. Other large street gangs include the Aryan Brotherhood, a mostly prison-based white power gang, the Nazi Low Riders, or NLR, the Latin Kings, the Black Gangster Disciples of Chicago, and Los Angeles-based 18th Street gang. In the 1980's, other gangs, such as Mere Salvatrucha and the Asian Boyz emerged, especially from Southern California.
Apart from street gangs, motorcycle gangs feature prominently in the popular imagination.
The word "gang" generally appears in a pejorative context, though within "the gang" itself members may adopt the phrase in proud identity or defiance.