One of the most characteristic qualities of a secret combination is that they covenant not to disclose their wickedness. To do so was punishable according to the band's internal code. Traditionally, disclosing murderous intentions and actions was punishable by death (Ether 8:14). In our day, inner city gangs adopt this same, internal "justice" system. They never allow members to leave the group. If they do, they are punished with severe beatings or sometimes death.
M. Russell Ballard
"Today's young people, just as those 'of the rising generation' in Book of Mormon times, are the most susceptible to the influence of gangs. Our young men and young women see it all around them. There is an entire subculture that celebrates contemporary gangs and their criminal conduct with music, clothing styles, language, attitudes, and behaviors. Many of you have watched as trendy friends have embraced the style as something that was 'fashionable' and 'cool,' only to be dragged into the subculture because of their identification with gangs....
"The Book of Mormon teaches that the devil is the 'author of all sin' and the founder of these secret combinations. He uses secret combinations, including gangs, 'from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men.' His purpose is to destroy individuals, families, communities, and nations. To a degree, he was successful during Book of Mormon times. And he is having far too much success today. That's why it is so important for us as priesthood holders to take a firm stand for truth and right by doing what we can to help keep our communities safe." (Conference Report, Nov. 1997 Ensign, p. 37)