Sample use: "Timmy went to ??? to procure an 8-ball of cocaine and visit his favorite hooker."

Sort of like chinatown is a general name for an ethnic enclave, is there a general word or a phrase for a criminal enclave?

It is best demonstrated in 80s/90s Japanese gangster movies where the Yakuza often replaced rule of law in a part of a city that contained illegal gambling, prostitution, etc. The Yakuza didn't just run the businesses but in fact replaced the police in those areas, had their own enforcers, laws and judges.

I found a few terms like mobtown or narco town but those seem to be referring to entire towns/cities, not just parts of it.

Hood or ghetto don't necessarily mean control by a criminal element.

  • A common phrase is no-go area as that does actually refer to the police staying out of it and criminal elements taking over, but that won't fit your sentence. [Note: I've nothing against Leicester; Google autocomplete filled in the city name and the first result at that link is relevant.]
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 14, 2019 at 9:50
  • “Outlaw area” may fit as a generic expression.
    – user 66974
    Jul 14, 2019 at 11:26
  • Perhaps "Timmy went to the X district" with X being something like red-light, brothel, or gangster. In Japan those districts were called Aosen.
    – Boondoggle
    Jul 17, 2019 at 16:57
  • Little Amsterdam ...
    – jxh
    Jul 17, 2019 at 19:57
  • Mob neighborhoods. But they're not places you go to score drugs. The streets are clean and crime free. The mob polices those neighborhoods.
    – David M
    Oct 28, 2019 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


While gangland is most often used as an adjective or an attributive noun, as in, a gangland killing, it can be used to describe a specific territory controlled by gangs. Per the Urban Dictionary:

Territory owned and controlled by major street gangs.
“Don't be stepping up into that 'zoo', that's major gangland.”

See also https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Citations:gangland#English

  • ganglands: soc.culture.african.american - 19 Apr 1992 by Stanford Guillory
    She has garnered national acclaim because her neighborhood is in the center of the ganglands of LA.

While this use is rarer, it is attested. If you were to write “Timmy went down to gangland,” a typical reader would understand that you meant that literally, that Timmy went into the turf of some gang, rather than just figuratively.

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