Latin Kings (gang)
Latin Kings graffiti of the King Master along with the initials "L" and "K" on the sides.
|Founding location||Chicago, Illinois|
|Years active||1940s — present|
|Territory||Nationwide, in predominately Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago, New York, US cities and Some parts of Mexico|
King Motherland Midwest faction - 20,000 (dominated by Mexicans and Dominicans)Bloodline Eastcoast faction - 6,500 to 7,500 (dominated by Puerto Ricans)
|Criminal activities||Racketeering, battery, arms trafficking, drug trafficking, extortion, identity document forgery, robbery, and murder|
|Allies||People Nation, Norteños, Black P Stones, Ñetas, Bloods|
|Rivals||Trinitarios, Folk Nation, Latin Counts, Sureños, 18th Street Gang, MS-13|
The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN, ALKN, LKN) is the largest and one of the most organized Hispanic street gangs in the United States of America. Its roots date to the 1940s in Chicago, Illinois where it developed in the Puerto Rican community, which had expanded during a period of increased migration to the mainland.
- 1 Latin Kings
- 2 King Motherland Chicago Latin Kings
- 3 Bloodline Latin Kings
- 4 Latin Queens
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Latin Kings street gang was formed in Chicago in the 1940s and consisted predominantly of Puerto Rican males. Although it was created by Puerto Ricans, members now are mostly of Puerto Rican and Mexican ancestry. The gang has some Cuban and Dominican gang members, reflecting changing immigration patterns since its origin.
Subdivisions and size
Founded with the philosophy of "overcoming racial prejudice" and creating an organization of "Kings" and "Queens," the Latin Kings evolved into a criminal enterprise operating throughout the United States under two umbrella factions—Motherland, also known as KMC (King Manifesto and Constitution), and Bloodline (New York City). All members of the gang identify as Latin Kings. Individuals of any nationality may be accepted as members.
Latin Kings associating with the Motherland faction also identify as "Almighty Latin King Nation (ALKN)," and make up more than 160 structured chapters operating in 158 cities in 31 states. The membership of those Latin Kings who follow KMC is estimated to be 20,000 to 35,000.
The Bloodline Manifesto was founded by Luis Felipe AKA "King Blood" in 1986 in the New York State Collins correctional Facility. Latin Kings associating with New York State Bloodline Chapter also identify as the "Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN)." Membership is estimated to be as many as 7,500, divided among several dozen Tribes operating in 15 cities in 5 states. New York State Bloodline Latin Kings share a common culture and structure with KMC and respect them as the Motherland, but not all chapters report to the Chicago leadership hierarchy.
The Latin Kings have a hierarchical organizational structure: they have numerous "chapters" or "tribes" across the country, which adhere to a regional, state, and a national system. Officers (Inca, Cacique and Enforcer) are supported by a "Crown Council" of seven members. The Council sets rules and regulations and holds disciplinary hearings.
The hierarchy rises to regional officers and ultimately to the Supreme Inca ruler based in Chicago. The head (or heads) of the entire criminal organization are known as "Coronas" (crowns in English). One retired detective said in 2004: "When you compare them to other street gangs like the Bloods and the Crips, none compare to the organization of the Latin Kings."
When any member believes that another member has violated a regulation, they begin the disciplinary process by submitting a Procedures for Violation Form. This form includes a variety of information about the allegation including the violation, the version of the accused, and members present or other witnesses. If the member is found to be guilty of the violation at their Crown hearing, they may be subject to a range of penalties depending on the severity of the offense:
- Probation - for a period ranging between two weeks and two months, can be imposed in addition to other punishments
- Fines (Multas) - may also be used as a way to recoup the expense of gang property when it is destroyed or lost by a member
- Stripping - the member is stripped of their rank and titles, unlikely to ever rise to their previous rank again
- Suspension - the member is stripped of all offices and duties, is not permitted to wear their colors, and is addressed as a novice
- Community service - particular assignments made on a case-by-case basis
- B.O.S. (Beat on sight) - beating of undetermined length of time
- Three minute physical - three-minute beating by at least three members
- Five minute physical - five-minute beating by five members
- T.O.S. (Terminate on sight) - death
The Latin King colors are Black and Gold; gang markings consist of a 5 or 3-point "sacred crown," writings of LK, ALK, ALKN, ALKQN abbreviations (or the whole words); and drawings of the Lion and/or the King Master. Latin King symbolism is usually accompanied with the name and number of the Tribe, region or city of the gang. The Latin Kings are members of the People Nation alliance of gangs, and are therefore opposed to the rival Folk Nation gang alliance.
Most Kings wear black/and or gold. The teams Kings represent are usually Chicago teams; such as the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, but also the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Oakland Raiders and the Colorado Buffs.
According to John H. Richardson in the February 1997 issue of the New York Magazine,
"What also made the Kings different was their unique mixture of intense discipline, revolutionary politics and a homemade religion called "Kingism"—adding idealism and a bootcamp rigor to the usual gang camaraderie—a potent mixture for troubled ghetto kids whose lives lacked structure and hope".
Kingism as an ideology is a unique blend of tribal gang rhetoric and religious mysticisms. As one member put it, the Manifesto is "considered our Bible," and reading it is to go "from the darkness to the light." This can readily be seen in the following passage from the King's manifesto explaining the significance of the salute, which readily combines organizational fealty with Judeo-Christian theism and some variety of nature worship:
A fist upon our heart. It means "I DIE FOR YOU" for you are flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, son of my mother who is the universal nature and follower of Yahve, who is the Almighty King of Kings.
The Latin Kings operate under strict codes and guidelines that are conveyed in a lengthy constitution, and they follow the teachings of the King Manifesto. According to the Manifesto there are three stages or cycles of Nation life that constitute Kingism. They are:
- The Primitive Stage: "That stage in life where the King warrior acts on impulse, executing his action without giving them the serious thought that they demand. A stage of immaturity where the King warrior's time is spend gang banging, getting high, and being recognized as big and bad."
- The Conservative Stage: "At this level the King warrior becomes tired of the primitive stage. He no longer wishes to participate in the senseless routine of gang fighting, hanging on the corner or being recognized as big and bad. Most often at this level the King warrior gets married and retires. It is inappropriate to call this stage maturity stage due to the fact that the King warrior at this time does not really become mature in the sense of maturity. Instead he becomes mummified or reaches a level of accepting life as it has been taught to him by the existing system that exploits all people of color-dehumanizes them and maintains them under the economic and social yoke of slavery."
- The New King Stage: "The stage of awareness and decision. The new King recognizes that the time for revolution is at hand. Revolution of the mind! The revolution of knowledge! A revolution that will bring freedom to the enslaved, to all Third World people as we together sing and praise with joy what time it is-it is Nation time!... For him there are no horizons between races, sexes and senseless labels. for him everything has meaning, human life is placed above materialistic values... When a man become a new King the will of the Nation becomes his will, for to be at variance with the Nation is one thing that cannot endure. The Almighty Latin King Nation requires wholehearted and complete devotion."
According to the Manifesto, "The New King is the end product of complete awareness, perceiving three-hundred and sixty degrees of enlightenment; his observations are free and independent; his thoughts are not clouded by any form of prejudice. The New King no longer views the rival warrior as the cause of his ills; instead, he fights against the Anti-King System (social injustices and inequality), a system which seeks to deny and oppress his people: the Oppressed Third World Peoples.
King Motherland Chicago Latin Kings
The Chicago faction of the Latin Kings is recognized as the largest Hispanic street gang, and the largest Chicago-based street gang, in the United States. Although the original Chicago members were of Puerto Rican descent, most members are now Mexican-American. Unlike MS-13 and 18th Street gang—whose great portion of gang membership exists in Central and South America—the Latin Kings have a heavier presence within the United States.
The gang has over 25,000 members in the city of Chicago alone and have organized chapters in over 41 states and several Latin American and European countries, including: Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, Italy, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, United Kingdom and others. The Latin Kings are mostly of Latino descent, with some Black, White, Asian and Middle Eastern members as well.
Federal sting operations against the Chicago Latin Kings
2006: Operation "Broken Crown"
A three-year investigation of the Latin Kings by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), entitled Operation Broken Crown, ended with the arrest of Fernando "Ace" King, who was suspected to be one of the highest-ranking members of the gang and at least 20 others. The operation was conducted in various areas in Chicago and the suburbs.
Prosecutors said the crack in the case came from an informant named Jesse Guajardo, the alleged "Inca" or leader of a southwest suburban crew of the Latin Kings, from whom the witness purchased cocaine on about 10 occasions between 2000 and 2003. In just 18 months alone in 2003 and 2004, Guajardo, arrested in February, allegedly purchased 150 kilograms of cocaine -– including as much as 50 kilograms at one time for about $1.8 million -– from his alleged supplier, Jose Estrada, according to federal charges.
The investigation by ATF and various local, state and federal law enforcement partners when authorities began executing 10 federal search warrants and arresting alleged leaders, members and associates of the Almighty Latin King Nation (ALKN) street gang and individuals who supplied them with and purchased narcotics.
2008: Operation "Pesadilla"
In 2008 some 400 agents and officers fanned out into the Little Village Community to arrest many of the 40 Latin Kings hit with federal or state charges in an operation dubbed "Pesadilla", Spanish for nightmare. Among those charged in the operation were the "Supreme Regional Officer" as well as 32 "Incas" and "Caciques,": top leaders in the gang's block-by-block organization.
Among those charged in the drug conspiracy case was Vicente Garcia, 30, whose last known address was Bolingbrook, Illinois, was extradited from Mexico after being identified by authorities as the gang's No. 2 leader. Garcia, succeeded Fernando King as the gang's "Supreme Inca" after King was convicted in another federal prosecution.
The undercover recordings captured Garcia issuing a decree that each Inca in the 24 Latin Kings sections controlled by the Little Village region of the gang sell a quarter-ounce of cocaine twice a month to generate revenue for the "Nation Box," a kitty the gang used to pay for guns, drugs, funerals and legal fees, authorities said. Investigators methodically built a case as the wired informant made the rounds handing out drugs and collecting money from gang supervisors month after month.
2009: Operation Augustin Zambrano
Augustin Zambrano, alleged to be a "Corona" of the Latin Kings, making him the highest-ranking leader outside of prison and responsible for overseeing the illegal activities of all factions of the powerful Chicago Latin Kings, was among 18 defendants charged in a sweeping new federal indictment against the gang's alleged hierarchy. Zambrano and other alleged leaders of the 26th Street Region of the Latin Kings were charged with racketeering conspiracy for allegedly running a criminal enterprise to enrich themselves and others through drug trafficking and preserving and protecting their power, territory and revenue through acts of murder, attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, extortion, and other acts of violence.
The charges result from a sustained, coordinated investigation by multiple federal law enforcement agencies, working together with the Chicago Police Department and other state and local partners, to dismantle the hierarchy of the Latin Kings and other highly organized, often violent, drug-trafficking Chicago street gangs.
On April 6, 2011, Zambrano and three associates were convicted in federal court of racketeering conspiracy and other charges.
2011: Chicago Latin Kings and Police Corruption
Fifteen suspected members or associates of the Latin Kings including Roky Saravia, Giovanni Marcelo Cantillano and Freddy Saravia—have been indicted in an alleged racketeering conspiracy that resulted in 19 murders in three states and helped distribute millions of dollars worth of drugs throughout the region—150 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana a year.
In Chicago, two police officers were indicted November 18, 2011 on charges they provided stolen cash, guns, and drugs to leaders of the Latin Kings street gang. Officers Alex Guerrero and Antonio Martinez were among 21 defendants named in a federal indictment aimed at the gang. They are accused of ripping off drug dealers in fake drug busts in Rockford, Chicago, and Hammond and turning over the proceeds to the Latin Kings. The defendants in the indictment are accused of 75 illegal acts, including 19 murders, assaults, gun sales, and drug sales in Chicago, Northwest Indiana, Texas, and Mexico. Guerrero and Martinez are not named in the homicide counts, but are charged with conspiracy.
Bloodline Latin Kings
In New York City, the Latin Kings are organized into individual "Tribes." These tribes are located throughout the five boroughs and Long Island. In some cases use the names of ancient Indians such as Queen's Flushing "Maya Tribe" & Long Island's "Toltec tribe" or local names such as The "Flatbush, Brooklyn Tribe" The "Sunset Park Tribe" and The "Borough Park Homicide Squad" are located in Brooklyn. Other Boroughs such as Queens include names such as "Jamaica wolf pack Tribe", "Crown City Tribe", & "Lef-Rak City Tribe". Other names can consist of Divisions such as D-1, D-2, D-3, D-4 & D-5 all located in Long Island's Toltec tribe; extending across the whole island.
In 1986, to avoid imprisonment for his criminal activities in Chicago, Luis Felipe (a.k.a. King Blood) fled to New York and started his own chapter of the Latin Kings known as the Bloodline. He designated himself as Inca and Supreme Crown of the state of New York. Soon after arriving in New York Felipe was arrested and convicted of murdering his girlfriend. In 1995 Antonio Fernandez (a.k.a. King Tone) was designated Inca and Supreme Crown of New York State and New Jersey, and the ALKQN once again began a transformation. The supreme crown in the Dominican Republic was Walter Carlos Martínez a.k.a. King Fenix, among other leaders such as King Guillo and King Gatillero (Miguelito).
Street Gang: 1986–1995
In 1991, Felipe was returned to prison after a short release for parole violations stemming from the receipt of stolen goods. However, Felipe continued to guide the ALKQN members, who now numbered about 2,000, both incarcerated and free. In 1994, with the rapid growth of the Latin Kings, an internal power struggle erupted and violence within the Kings ensued. Between June 1993 and February 1994, seven Latin Kings were murdered. Following the outbreaks of internal gang violence, Luis Felipe and 19 others were charged with murder and racketeering; the indictments ended in 1995 with 39 Latin Kings and 1 Latin Queen indicted under the RICO Act.
The details of the charges against Felipe were later revealed: Felipe was charged with ordering the killing of William (Lil Man) Cartegena. Cartegena was taken to an abandoned Bronx apartment where he was strangled, decapitated, mutilated and his corpse set on fire. Although Felipe was in prison, the government later alleged he had ordered a TOS ("Terminate On Sight") to all Latin Kings for the murder of Cartegena. This letter and many others were how Felipe was initially linked to three murders on the streets of New York; testimony from former Kings was used as further evidence of the orders. The letters had been copied and stored by the NY Department of Corrections, who were not aware of the significance of the letters until a federal task force was formed that linked homicide investigators from the NYPD, FBI agents, and DOC investigators.
In 1996, following the trial of Luis Felipe, Antonio Fernandez who was recently blessed as the Inca and Supreme Crown of New York State and New Jersey, kneeled with other Latin Kings in front of the Federal District Court in Manhattan and is quoted as stating: It's time for a fresh start ... Now they can't hold our past against us. 1996 is believed to be the beginning of the ALKQN's transformation from a street gang to a "street organization."
Latin Kings and Queens begin appearing en masse at political demonstrations in support of the Latino community. To further its transformation and efforts to legitimize, the organization begins to hold its monthly meetings (universals) at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Harlem. At this time the membership of the Latin Kings is believed to have swelled to 3,000 incarcerated and 4,000 free. The monthly universals are drawing in an attendance of 500-600 regularly. Internal changes to the organization begin to take place as Fernandez amended the ALKQN manifesto to include parliamentary elections and new procedures for handling inter-organizational grievances and removing death as a possible punishment, replacing it with "vanishing", the act of being banished from the movement.
For the ALKQN, 1997 begins with Felipe being sentenced to the harshest penalty passed down since World War II, Felipe is sentenced to 250 years in prison, the first 45 to be spent in solitary confinement. The other 39 members were sentenced to an average of 20 years in prison for their roles in the crimes. The year would bring further legal troubles as Fernandez and 31 others are arrested in a raid in the Lower East Side and charged with disorderly conduct. The Special Commissioner of Investigation for Schools soon after charges the ALKQN with infiltrating the school system, a school security guard with five years of service is dismissed on charges of unprofessional conduct for his association. The year comes to a close with Fernandez being arrested in December by the FBI for domestic abuse.
The pending charges against Fernandez were dropped in early 1998. Following the release of Fernandez, a joint operation of the FBI, New York City Police Department (NYPD), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), New York State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) comes to a close with the arrests of 92 suspected ALKQN members. The Latin King leadership insists over half of those arrested are not members. The operation, dubbed Operation Crown, cost the city over one million dollars and took 19 months to complete.
Fernandez was released after four days on $350,000 bail, which was paid for by contributions from community members. Over half of the arrested were charged with misdemeanors, other were charged with weapons possession and drug trafficking. Fernandez was eventually permitted, though on house arrest, to attend monthly universal meetings. It was during his time on house arrest that the Latin Queens underwent a shake up in leadership, dismissing many of the leaders in order to bring in more politically focused members.
The Latin Kings during this period begin to gain legitimacy. First, Lolita Lebrón, who was a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, appointed the New York State ALKQN to protect her during a demonstration in front of the United Nations. Following the UN demonstration, Rafael Cancel-Miranda, a Puerto Rican nacionalista who spent 25 years in federal prison, attended a monthly universal. Before years' end, Adelfa Vera, Puerto Rican activist, attended a monthly universal and was given sacred ALKQN beads by the present leadership. Adelfa was praised during the meeting and stated "These kids are hope for our liberation struggle. I can die in peace, because we found the continuation"
In 1998 Fernandez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell and distribute heroin. In 1999 he was sentenced to 13 years in prison, which he is serving at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas and was placed in solitary confinement. He was eventually transferred again and placed in general population. He has been released.
While originally the Latin Kings are thought to be a male organization, it eventually began to absorb women and give them an equal share. The Latin Queens constituted the female Queen Anubis and Queen Maat of the ALKQN.
The Latin Queen agenda is composed of self-respect, independence, family support, ethnic identity and self-empowerment. Seeking such goals has attracted a wide variety of females who had been drug addicted, victimized and/or neglected by families, spouses and partners. Sociologists studying the Latin Kings and Queens have observed the different methods in which both groups attempt to "reclaim and regulate" their environments. The Latin Queens are believed to focus more on their private space issues such as home life and protection and nurturing of their bodies, as opposed to the Latin Kings, who are more concerned with loss of public spaces in their own communities.
The evolution of the ALKQN has been viewed by outside sources as being assisted by the addition and greater role in which Queen Loki and Queen Vailor have played, exposing the ALKQN to a greater range of cross-class supporters than would have been possible prior to their integration. In countries such as Spain, Latin Queens are helping to legitimize the ALKQN through integration with government sponsored programs. In Catalonia, the 200 persons including Queen Tragedy and King Zeus and the rest of the Latin Kings and Queens tribe was designated as the Cultural Association of Latin Kings and Queens of Catalonia. The "cultural program" designation was bestowed through government sponsored programs to assist gangs with integration into society and is led by Latin Queen Melody, Erika Jaramillo.
- Organized crime
- Gangs in the United States
- Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
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