A gangster is a criminal who is a member of a gang. Some gangs are considered to be part of organized crime. Gangsters are also called mobsters, a term derived from mob and the suffix -ster. Gangs provide a level of organization and resources that support much larger and more complex criminal transactions than an individual criminal could achieve. Gangsters have been active for many years in countries around the world.
Some gangsters, such as Al Capone have become infamous. Gangsters are the subject of many novels and films, particularly from the period between 1920 and 1990.
Some contemporary criminals refer to themselves as “gangsta” in reference to non-rhotic Black American pronunciation.
In today’s usage, the term “gang” is generally used for a criminal organization, and the term “gangster” invariably describes a criminal. Much has been written on the subject of gangs, although there is no clear consensus about what constitutes a gang or what situations lead to gang formation and evolution. There is agreement that the members of a gang have a sense of common identity and belonging, and this is typically reinforced through shared activities and through visual identifications such as special clothing, tattoos or rings. Some preconceptions may be false. For example, the common view that illegal drug distribution in the United States is largely controlled by gangs has been questioned.