Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are turning into a criminal hub where gang members make threats, boast about crimes, share intelligence on rivals and network with people across the country.
Investigators are increasingly monitoring these sites to track gang activity.
According to law enforcement officials, gangs are making greater use of Twitter and Facebook, where they sometimes post information that helps agents identify gang associates and learn more about their organizations.
"You find out about people you never would have known about before," Discovery News quoted Dean Johnston with the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, which helps police investigate gangs, as saying.
"You build this little tree of people," Johnston added.
Tech-savvy gangsters have long been at home in chatrooms.
"They will even go out and brag about doing shootings," Johnston said.
Gang members also contacts across their extended networks for help identifying undercover police officers.
Representatives from Twitter and Facebook say they regularly cooperate with police and supply information on account holders when presented with a search warrant. Neither company would discuss specifics.