|Founded||Founded in 1954 by Ramon Santos in or near Near West Side West Town: Wicker Park South Lawndale: Little Village|
2000 or later;
|Colors||Black and Gold|
|Symbols||3 Point Crown, 5 Point Crown, Lion, and King Head|
3 point crown – 1960s-1978; 5 point crown – 1978-present, lion, king head with a crown
The beginning of the history of the Latin Kings goes back to the year 1954 in the Near West Side neighborhood at the intersection of Laflin and Van Buren. A young Cuban youth that was raised in Puerto Rico, Ramon Santos, put together a club of three boys (including himself) close to his age that included his step brother “Fast Eddie” who was Puerto Rican. The club was named the “Imperials” and was formed to defend against racial strife the boys faced against racist Italian and Greek gangs in the area that had deep anti-Puerto Rican sentiments.
The club quickly grew to include five members including King Papo, the other four members were Jose “Cadillac Joe” Rivera a Puerto Rican, Eddie “King Tiger” Rodriguez a Puerto Rican, and “Fast Eddie” a Puerto Rican and Joe Gunn a Mexican youth. Soon after that four more joined that included 18-year-old Julio “Compa” Munoz. The main symbol for the Imperials was a crown which gave birth to the crown the Latin Kings use today accept back then the crown only had three points.
The Imperials were a reclusive organization that mostly moved in silence to avoid the press and they did not seek social services like many other gangs in the neighborhood did at Hull House or other club houses.
Starting in the mid-1950s and escalating by the end of the decade many Puerto Rican families were fleeing the Near West Side community and the Old Town neighborhood when the Carl Sandburg Village was built over the “La Clark” Puerto Rican settlement. La Clark and “La Madison” settlements began to clear out in 1959 as both settlements began moving into Wicker Park. Santos moved away from Laflin and Van Buren and came to Leavitt and Schiller in 1959 and many Imperials came with him. Other members would move into West Humboldt Park by Beach and Spaulding. Ramon Santos, now known as “King Papo” moved to Leavitt and Schiller right next to the playground at Albert R. Sabin elementary school located at 2216 W Hirsch St. while “Batman” moved to Beach and Spaulding in West Humboldt Park. The Imperials were the first Hispanic gang in Wicker Park or on the whole north side of Chicago in history! We’ll pick up on this part of the story a little further down but first we need to look at another part of the story.
Another manifestation was the creation of a gang of Mexican youths called the “MarKings” that were formed at the intersection of 24th and Marshall Boulevard (The Boulevards) in the Marshall Square section of South Lawndale in 1962. The name MarKings comes from the street name of Marshall Boulevard, basically saying they are the kings of Marshall Boulevard or Marshall Boulevard Kings. The MarKings soon grew to have about 15-30 members as they fought rivals such as the Gay Lords. The very young MarKings opened Newberry and Roosevelt section in the Near West Side neighborhood in 1962 known as the “Little Markings.” The MarKings consisted of Mexican youths that were bullied and tormented by white greaser clubs in the area that were upset with the new Mexican migration into the neighborhood, this prompted the Mexican youths to stick together that were willing to fight for their existence in this community. When the Marshall Boulevard Kings arrived here not far away from the Imperials, Ambrose, Taylor Jousters and even a group of Latin Counts and other legendary groups. Perhaps this was the first time the Imperials and MarKings became acquainted.
The very first Mexican families moved to Little Village in 1962 and were so few in numbers they often didn’t know there were other Mexican people in the neighborhood but the ones that did connect were able to come together against some forms of discrimination and this was prevalent for the Mexican youths at 24th and Marshall that were struggling just to attend school at Harrison High School and John Spry Elementary School. In 1963 more Mexican families came to Little Village but still in smaller numbers making the youth still heavily outnumbered. Soon more Mexican gangs formed to defend themselves. These new 1963 formations were: Supreme Cliques that wore black and orange colors, the 26th Street Jokers that wore black and purple and the 23rd Street Boys.
In the same year of 1962, Puerto Rican migration increased significantly in the Wicker Park, East Village, east and west Humboldt park areas. This new wave angered much of the white population of these neighborhoods causing the greasers to focus more of their attention on groups of Puerto Rican youths instead of fighting other greaser gangs as much. Puerto Rican youths began to form street gangs to protect themselves against their hostile neighbors as they were often brutally beaten for just walking down the street and going to the store. Several groups like the Young Sinners, Young Lords and various others formed in 1962. As these new groups formed the Imperials made the decision to begin recruiting young members starting a new generation of Imperials bringing in some legendary members like “Cadillac Joe” for example. The new wave of Imperials were posted at Kedzie and Ohio in the southern part of West Humboldt Park and Beach and Spaulding in West Humboldt Park and Leavitt and Schiller in Wicker Park.
On Friday May 15th, 1964, on a sunny Friday afternoon several Puerto Rican gang members and a few full Puerto Rican gangs like the Imperials, Skulls and some others met in Humboldt Park in the actual park. It needed to be done because all around Humboldt Park and West Town young Puerto Rican youths were being bullied and beaten as they walked across town, got on the school bus, walked to the store and were being beaten and tormented in school as bullies shook them down for their lunch money. I have heard that King Papo may not have attended this meeting in the park but that may have been because he had already authorized this idea and sent some of his best men to organize the meeting. It is legend that Phil and Freddy were the directors of this meeting as Imperials from Leavitt and Schiller and Imperials from Kedzie and Ohio put this together. It could have been possible there were two meetings that happened that year, one maybe just between Ohio and Kedzie and Leavitt and Schiller to create the Latin King name and then maybe a second that invited other groups. Either way you want to slice it, it all came to be in 1964 right before the summer time.
The first three principles the original Latin Kings lived by was and still is:
- Protect our families
- Protect our neighborhoods
- Protect each other
A very short time later in 1964, perhaps right before the summer, King Papo himself visited Little Village to meet with the MarKings, Jokers, 23rd Street Boys and Supreme Cliques. Residents that knew gangs in the area recall that day Ramon came to the neighborhood from the northside to combine forces with the Little Village clubs. Some of the earliest original big time Latin Kings from 24th and Marshall were: Scarface, Dino, Don Juan, Black Sal, White Sal, Crazy Man and Little Boy.
Now the Latin Kings organization was born that was the combo of the Imperials, Jokers, 23rd Street Boys, Supreme Cliques and MarKings, a club called the “Skulls” out of West Humboldt Park and other clubs from up north. This was a brotherhood designed for members to protect each other from rivals that threatened their right to exist. Up north the Latin Kings were all Puerto Rican and this was the much larger branch and this was the main headquarters for the whole nation in the beginning. In the south in Little Village by the 24th (The Boulevards) they were Mexican. King Papo created an organization for all Hispanics struggling with bullies and violent greaser clubs. The Latin Kings would fight viciously and spill blood when picked on by greaser clubs or other bullying groups; they also dealt with crooked and racist police officers that picked on Puerto Rican youths. The Latin King name soon spread fear into many enemies out there and if you wanted to go against the Latin Kings, you better be ready for a nasty fight.
Leavitt and Schiller became the headquarters for all northern Latin Kings and was directly supervised by King Papo and many youths attending Sabin Elementary were joining the Latin Kings as they were sick of being attacked by greasers. The youths had always looked up to the Imperials in the earlier 60s now they could join as Latin Kings by 1964. Batman opened the first West Humboldt Park Latin King section at Kedzie and Ohio but soon that moved to Beach and Spaulding (The motherland) in 1964 which became the headquarters of the Humboldt Park Latin Kings north chapter and the headquarters for all the northern Latin Kings.
King Papo came to the Lincoln Park neighborhood in 1964 and helped start the Armitage and Dayton chapter which moved to Armitage and Sheffield by 1969. This chapter was needed because once again Puerto Rican youths were being bullied and beaten by greasers and other groups and harassed by police in this community that was not friendly to Puerto Ricans in these days.
The Latin Kings opened a branch in 1964 at the intersection of Noble and Cortez on the Noble Square/East Village border. This branch was started by Michael Perez and this group instantly clashed with the Harrison Gents formed in this area in the same year. The Ashland and Cortez Kings also battled with the Gaylords in this area. In 1965 the Noble and Cortez group was left to the Junior Latin Kings as the Seniors moved to Ashland and Cortez. This branch lasted until 1972 when many of the members moved to the Beach and Spaulding branch closing this territory.
The Latin Kings also began the Winthrop and Ainslie chapter in the Uptown neighborhood in the year 1964 which became a notorious chapter for many years to come.
Latin Kings would also open a branch in East Humboldt Park along Maplewood street in 1964.
Another branch that started possibly as early as 1964 was the first Bridgeport chapter at 27th and Normal and opened a club house at address 2702 South Normal Street. The club house was easily identifiable due a spray painted “Latin King” wording on the door. This chapter only lasted 5 or 6 years because 8 members were convicted in the court case of People vs. Galvan in which those prosecuted may have actually been innocent of the charges depending upon how the case is looked at. The chapter closed after the court case until a new one was born at 33rd and Morgan in the late 1970s.
Another south side Latin King branch started in 1964 was the 57th and Halsted branch in the Englewood neighborhood. This was a small Puerto Rican enclave and the youths had problems with white greaser gangs attacking them and black gangs like the Devil’s Disciples. This branch also fought with the Village Sharks then a little later the Emerald Knights. Before this branch closed in 1971 their main Hispanic enemy was the Latin Souls who used to be Emerald Knights.
When the Latin Kings first began in 1964 they hung out regularly at a restaurant called “Mom & Pops” that right across from Sabin Elementary School. Very soon after the Latin Kings opened their very first club house two buildings north of the restaurant in a basement that they called “PETES.” It was in this very club house where the first Latin King crown was drawn up in the fall of 1965 and where the Latin Queens were founded that year.
As early as 1964, the Latin Kings took in any race. You could be white, black, Asian, Dominican, Cuban, Honduran, Middle Eastern, it didn’t matter as long as you were willing to fight for the cause and someone in the club could vouch for you as a good guy and down brother. Since 1964 the Latin King nation has always been for all races, creeds and colors but has also always been for fighting for the struggles of the Hispanic people. In the earliest days the most frequently seen other races to join the Latin Kings were whites and blacks who had some of the most loyal soldiers in the nation.
In the mid-1960s and they still held a chapter in the Near West Side community in the Newberry Street area. Newberry and Roosevelt closed in 1965 when the new UIC campus was built right at that intersection; therefore, Kings from Newberry moved south on Newberry or north up Newberry by Taylor Street.
The Latin Kings were a sophisticated group that was ran by adult men, some as old as 30 years old by the mid-1960s; having older members that knew how to network and get around the city allowed the organization to grow into new communities with ease upon inception and the Latin Kings turned out smaller gangs and converted them into Latin Kings making the empire grow larger. Some of the men that were original Latin Kings were immigrants from Puerto Rico and Mexico and some may have even had gang ties or ties to revolutionary groups in their original country.
In the year 1964, the Latin Kings bopped heads with one of their biggest allies the Young Lords and war ensued that lasted two years until the Young Lords became passive activists and were no longer interested in neighborhood control. That two-year war came to an end on June 12, 1966 when the Division street riots were happening. A Puerto Rican man was gunned down unjustly by Chicago Police so Young Lords and Latin Kings stormed the streets rioting against the police over human rights. King Papo, Eddie LB, Bronco and King Tiger along with the Young Lords drew an alliance on this day and from there on became allies once again. It was this very day on June 12, 1966 that the Latin Kings first made the news all over the United States and perhaps globally. This enhanced recruitment and also public awareness and of course law enforcement became more aware of the Latin Kings.
Pilsen was opened in the late 60s when they turned out the Coulter Counts gang and converted them into the Coulter Kings Latin King branch at the intersection of Coulter and Damen.
The Latin Kings also opened in more northern neighborhoods like Avondale and Albany Park. Latin Kings made it to Hermosa in the late 1960s and early 1970s causing them to clash with the Imperial Gangsters, Taylor Jousters and the Stoned Freaks (then known as Young Freaks, or Young Blood Freaks).
By the late 1960s the Boulevards Latin Kings had pushed out the rest of the Gaylords that hadn’t already signed up to fight in the Vietnam war. The Latin Kings completely dominated Little Village and the only rival that could truly contend with them where the Two Sixs and to a lessor extent Ambrose and Satan Disciples (SDs were mainly in Marshall Square section). The Latin Kings were no longer just for Hispanics, they recruited African American and even white members, protection of the neighborhood became the main goal and they would take in soldiers from all backgrounds by the later 1960s while remaining mostly Hispanic.
In the early 1970s Latin Kings opened up territory on 79th Street in the South Chicago neighborhood due to newly arriving Mexican youths being bullied as the neighborhood’s Mexican population began to grow. This branch would move to 89th and Muskegon in 1981 and would explode in size to become a permanent fixture in the South Chicago neighborhood.
The northern branch of Latin Kings became very much politically active and began working with neighborhood renewal projects and graffiti cleanup programs, this was a way for Latin Kings to not only protect the communities they lived in but to help improve them.
Activism also took a revolutionary route, especially at Leavitt and Schiller. It was at this location that Latin Kings were working with the Puerto Rican extremist group FALN and they were hiding them at this location. Once the authorities came after the FALN, the Latin Kings cut off ties with FALN and had to abandon Leavitt and Schiller, King Papo left that location and most of the main members moved moved to Beach and Spaulding, the Insane Unknowns now took over Leavitt and Schiller after the big players of the Latin Kings departed in 1971. Latin Kings would return in 1978 to this intersection.
In the early 1970s, the Latin Kings began to embark upon the Heroin trade and selling other drugs. The organization was still geared toward neighborhood protection, but the organization needed cash flow to protect all its ventures and open legitimate businesses this brought the Latin Kings connections with sophisticated cartels and turned the inner circle of the Latin Kings into a sophisticated and organized syndicate although not so much during the first few years before 1972.
In June of 1971, Raul Gonzales and another high-ranking north side member of the Latin Kings Gustavo “Hercules” Colon caught court murder charges back to back.
According to court documents, on the night of June 20, 1971 Raul “BK” “Rayo” Gonzales was hanging out at the intersection of 24th and Sacramento in the Marshall Square neighborhood when he spotted Ernesto Villagomez in a car with several other people. Gonzales then fired bullets into the car and killed the driver causing the car to crash into a building, his intended target survived and only the driver that was shot was killed, the driver was Villagomez’ uncle. Villagomez had been known to hang out with both Latin Kings and Bishops gang members. Latin Kings and Bishops were rival gangs at that point in time and BK did not like Ernesto hanging out with Bishops, especially after Ernesto wore a shirt that said “Bishops” on it. One day outside of Harrison High School BK confronted Villagomez and told him to not wear Bishop clothing, when Ernesto wised off to BK, BK slapped him across the face, Ernesto then threatened revenge on another date, it was at that point that BK marked Villagomez, and on the night of June 20th he killed Villagomez’ uncle as he was driving Ernesto and others home from a dance. The other car load in front of the uncle’s car was a car full of Bishops gang members and according to court documents those witnesses were affiliated with the Bishops, Gonzales was then charged with murder and sent to prison (People vs. Gonzales, 1974).
According to court documents, on the night of June 27, 1971 Gustavo “Hercules” Colon was hanging out at the intersection of Leavitt and Potomac in the Wicker Park neighborhood that night. According to court documents Colon and Florentine “Brillo” Menendez spotted Glenn Burr and his sister and friends walking down the street. Menendez then shouted, “Shoot that black mother fucker!” and pulled a gun on the group of five according to court documents, Glenn Burr then took off running but Colon then shot him three times in the back, killing him. Colon then walked up to Verlinda Hamilton and put the gun to her head and gave her a big smile then pulled the trigger; however, the gun jammed. Supposedly the shooting happened because Glenn Burr was a Vice Lord in Latin King territory Colon was not arrested for the crime until August of 1971, Brillo was said to be dead by the time arrests were to be made, Colon was then charged with murder and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison (People vs. Colon, 1974).
In the year 1972, the 57th and Halsted Latin Kings moved north in the Back of the Yards to 51st and Ada and 52nd and Marshfield where they continued their rivalry with the Latin Souls that moved to the same area at 51st. At 52nd the Latin Kings unified with the Black P Stones which was pivotal unity point between the Stones and Kings.
By 1972, the Latin Kings were facing a major crisis. Starting in the late 1960s some key members were getting into using heavy drugs like Heroin. There were also many members that were not focused on tasks at hand and much of the LKN was disorganized, which was a major threat to leadership especially since they were trying to organize a sophisticated syndicate. Amid several gang wars and now with law enforcement breathing down their necks, there was a real threat to the very existence of the Latin King Nation and slip ups by members could not be tolerated anymore; it was time for a constitution to keep the entire organization in line. Now that Hercules and Rayo were incarcerated for murder they had an immediate meeting behind prison walls with Manuel Diaz Rodriguez, Johnny Martinez, Eddie, Dino, and Sun Child. These 7 Latin Kings drew up the “Kings Manifesto” which was literature that was to guide and organize Latin Kings in the right direction in order to ease operations and maintain order. One of the biggest guidelines was no use of drugs unless it was Marijuana.
After the Manifesto was written in 1972, King Papo voluntarily stepped down along with Carmelo leaving Hercules to run the north side and northwest side operations while Rayo ran southwest and south side operations. Other members were out casted for their behavior and ejected from the organization to be made examples of how this behavior was now not acceptable. All addicted Latin Kings were ordered to kick their Heroin habits immediately and turn in all bags of their Heroin, if they did not, severe consequences would be suffered. It did not matter about the withdraw effects; you had to just stop using…no Exceptions!
Now that Rayo had become leader of the south side, he was now referred to the nickname “Baby King” as he was the protégé of the former leader King Papo allegedly. Gustavo Colon was now referred to as “Lord Gino” now that he was in command of all northern Chicago operations, these two men had just become the King of Kings.
Now at this point in time the Latin King nation was to become even stronger than ever with the Kings Manifesto, and BK and Gino were successfully operating the organization from behind prison walls; however, there were still lots of Latin Kings that supported and looked up to King Papo and many still saw him as the supreme leader of the Latin Kings. King Papo did indeed officially step down and became semi-retired in 1972 but unofficially he was still a shot caller especially since he was out on the streets while BK and Gino were locked up. This was something rumored to have not settled well with some of incarcerated leadership.
Another big player within the Latin King Nation was a member named Julio “Compa” Munoz who was an original member of the nation. Compa was born in the year 1936 making him one of the oldest members or perhaps the oldest member of the Latin Kings. He was the 9th member of the Imperials as they formed in 1954. Compa was a big-time member and highly regarded in the nation.
According to court documents, on the night of December 17, 1975 Compa conspired with a prostitute named Deborah Schak and Victor Figueroa and Ralphie Munoz to get a sum of money together to pay for Schak’s methadone treatment because she was a struggling recovering heroin addict and asked the men for help according to court documents. The four of them then conspired to have Schak lure a client into a trap where she would perform her sexual favors for money then Munoz’ men would rob him. Schak lived with Munoz at 1737 Maplewood (Maplewood and Bloomingdale in Logan Square) and told Munoz she needed the money and was willing to steal for it according to court documents. Schak then walked to Western Avenue and picked up on three men, two of which took her to one of the men’s residence where she performed sexual favors on them both. One of the men, Peter Mobiles, wanted to stay with Schak and offered her $100 for a night with her and he flashed a large amount of money according to court documents. Mobiles and Schak then left to stay at her “sister’s house” at Campbell and Wabansia which was right down the block from where Schak and Munoz realistically resided. Schak had Mobiles wait outside while she went inside to ask her sister for permission, instead Schak grabbed a knife and Munoz came with her with a gun on him. Schak asked Mobiles if he could give Munoz a ride to Foster and Sheridan, Mobiles agreed and got in the car while Schak got in the back seat behind him, and Munoz hopped into the passenger seat. According to court documents Munoz put the gun to Mobiles’ head while Schack wrapped her arm around Mobile’s neck and put her knife to his throat, the two of them then demanded money but Mobiles only gave them $20. Munoz then ordered Mobiles to take off his clothes and put them right outside the car, Mobiles complied according to court documents. I am speculating Munoz had Mobiles do this, so they could search his clothes for more money because after this happened Munoz told Schak to step outside, Munoz then ordered Mobiles to lie down on the ground face down, then Munoz shot Mobiles in the back of the head. The two of them grabbed the clothes then left the scene and fled to their place on Maplewood. Back at the residence Julio Munoz told Ralphie Munoz that he was not sure if Mobiles was dead and that he accidentally shot Mobiles but also said “it’s probably better that way.” Schak apparently did not want murder to be involved because she was freaked out and ended up testifying against Munoz which got him put in prison for the murder. (People vs. Munoz, 1979).
This Julio Munoz case did not end with this 1975 murder, when the trails were happening in 1976 one of the men that discussed the robbery before it happened in December of 1975 was Victor Figueroa who had turned state’s witness against Compa in August of 1976. Because of Figueroa’s testimony the Latin Kings were making death threats against Figueroa forcing him into a witness protection program. Compa was highly regarded and was a high up member of the organization so tricking on him would come with consequences. The Latin Kings were now hunting Figueroa down and the hunt ended in 1979. According to court documents the frozen body of Victor Figueroa was found in a gangway at 1027 N. Francisco Street (East Humboldt Park) on February 23, 1979 with three bullet wounds in his chest and his penis was severed and shoved into his mouth. Anthony Perez was later arrested and charged with the murder. According to court documents Perez initially denied killing Figueroa but then later confessed to killing him and said he did it with another Latin King named “Black Jack,” but Black Jack’s real identity was never revealed in the court documents. Perez said he killed Figueroa in revenge for Figueroa testifying against Julio Compa Munoz. On the night of the murder Figueroa went into a bar at 1100 North California Ave (California and Thomas in East Humboldt Park) to look into buying drugs, at the bar Perez and Black Jack recognized Figueroa and approached him offering to get him the drugs as long as Figueroa came with them. The two men lured Figueroa to the alleyway at 1027 N. Francisco Street then Black Jack acted like he fell on the ice and pulled down Figueroa with him, then Perez pulled out the .38 revolver and pointed it at Figueroa and said “your days are over,” then fired all six bullets striking him only twice in the chest. Black Jack then reloaded the revolver for Perez and told him to shoot Figueroa in the heart, Perez then shot Figueroa right in the heart which was the cause of death according to the court documents. Perez was later arrested and charged with murder, in the court documents Perez denied cutting off Figueroa’s penis and feeding it to him, and the documents do not detail that part at all (People vs. Perez, 1983). The penis was likely removed by one of the two men to symbolize what happens when you run your mouth and testify, hence, why the penis was placed in the man’s mouth, the message was clearly sent, and it also showed the influence that Compa had, being an original member and perhaps the oldest member. Compa would remain in prison until 2012 where he died behind bars. Compa was also one of the bigger time leaders if not the very leader of the East Humboldt Park Latin Kings which was a section that closed right after Compa’s incarceration in 1979.
As the 1970s progressed the Latin Kings only got bigger There were white and black members as early as the 1960s but by the 1970s there were several black and white members depending on the neighborhood. The Latin Kings also had small sleeper cells of members living in the suburbs as early as the early 1970s, then by the mid-1970s there began some recruitment in the suburbs like, Melrose Park and Maywood as examples.
The importance of the Maywood Latin Kings
The year was 1976, and most of the Chicago area suburbs were quiet and a place to escape from the bustling city. In the western suburbs there was no signs of Chicago based gang activity stretching from Berkeley, to Maywood to Bellwood to Elmhurst to Melrose Park to Villa Park. All was quite until Mexican families came to move into the suburb of Maywood and start a better new life for themselves and their children. Maywood was a frustrated mostly white community that suddenly suffered high unemployment after their can factory closed down. People took their frustrations out on the newly arrived Hispanic and black residents moving in. Hispanic people were settling around the intersection of 5th Avenue and Lake Street and some were trying to open businesses and running into difficulties and unfair treatment from the rest of the community. The first Latin King to move to Maywood was “Nat” from 23rd and Christiana. Nat recruited his cousin “PeeWee” then soon a domino effect happened of several of their friends joining the Latin Kings. These young suburban Latin Kings made 5th Avenue and Maywood their stronghold and the headquarters. This section became very tightly ran and well organized and become the very first Latin King suburban branch on the entire planet. These Latin Kings were serious and put in lots of work for the organization. Within a very short time they expanded into nearby Melrose Park and Stone Park to help with Hispanic families facing unfair treatment. By the later 1970s and early 1980s these Latin Kings began to engage is vicious gang wars with rival gangs moving in from the city bringing negative attention to their original cause which was to help the community. Over time, the Maywood branch would spread out further influencing several more south suburbs and west suburbs that reached all the way as far north west Indiana. By the later 1980s and early 1990s Latin Kings were in just about every suburb connected near the southern side of the city and they all stemmed from the old Maywood chapter.
In 1977, the Latin Kings made the news again when another Division street riot kicked off on June 4th 1977. Once again Chicago Police gunned down two Puerto Rican youths and once again the community was infuriated. Looting, vandalism and violence ensued and the Latin Kings were a major part of the riot and so were the Spanish Cobras. Once Cobras and Kings saw each other they started fighting viciously and leaving a big path of destruction in their wake.
A big turn happened for the Latin Kings in 1978. The Latin Kings had a very strong branch operating on the corner of North Ave and Kedzie in West Humboldt Park. Right around the corner at 1551 North Kedzie Ave is the Illinois National Guard armory. The Latin Kings of North and Kedzie pulled off a major heist on a military vehicle right near the armory and stole thousands of dollars worth of high powered weapons by ambushing a military vehicle as it left the armory, they then helped themselves to all the crates in the vehicle while they held the personnel at gun point. This made the Latin Kings one heavily armed organization for the rest of their existence even up to present day and of course this will enhance recruitment due to being heavily armed.
In April, 1978 the Folk Nation alliance was formed in the prison system which included such gangs as Black Gangsters Disciples, Black Disciples, Ambrose, Satan Disciples, Latin Disciples (Maniac Latin Disciples), Two Six Boys (Gangster Two Six), Spanish Cobras, Simon City Royals, Almighty Insane Royal Popes, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Eagles, Orquestra Albany and Ashland Vikings. This was a prison alliance mainly orchestrated by Larry Hoover. This spelled bad news for the Latin Kings and any other gang that was not aligned with this new Folk Nation. It turned out the Latin Kings’ worst enemies had joined this alliance in the same meeting, the Latin Kings along with the Vice Lords and El Rukns created the People Nation alliance. They then extended the invite the Mickey Cobras, Latin Counts, Bishops, Spanish Lords, P.R. Stones and Insane Unknowns. The El Rukns and Vice Lords represented the Islam side of the People Nation, while the Latin Kings were represented the Christian side of the People Nation. This was all made possible because the Latin Kings, Black P. Stones, and Vice Lords had been allies ever since the early 1960s (with only scuffles here and there in certain parts of the city) when they all found a common enemy, the Devil’s Disciples.
A story I want to bring back from the Chicagogangs.org site is the meatloaf story. This is a story that goes to show the lengths this Latin Kings will go to, to make something happen. The story comes from the NGCRC in collaboration with federal authorities over their witnesses. This full story can be found here https://ngcrc.com/ngcrc/page15.htm written by George W. Knox who works for the NGCRC. He tells a tale of a high-ranking Latin King that turned informant and was put in witness protection program according to Knox. Inmate Carlos Robles of the north side Latin kings was classified as an “escapee” just two days before his release from prison and the case ran cold until 1992 when the informant told authorities about Robles and then in 1995 a skull was dug up in the Statesville Prison yard as evidence but still no one was pursued for prosecution and perhaps never will be.
In 1981, Raul Rayo Gonzales had a conflict with a north side Latin King Carlos Robles. Robles disrespected Gonzales and had no issue with it because Rayo was running the south side while Robles was under north side and felt Rayo couldn’t touch him. The only obstacle Rayo had to overcome was to get the nod from Lord Gino and state his case, Gino sided with Rayo and authorized Rayo to do whatever was needed to make an example out of Robles. Rayo then would then patiently wait two years.
In July 1983, Robles’ parole had come up and he was just two days away from getting out and he didn’t suspect any trouble was coming. Rayo consulted two of the craziest south side Latin Kings he could find in Statesville. One was a cold-blooded killer from Cuba that was known to kill without any remorse. Another was a short white member of the Latin Kings, both men were avid PCP users which already would make them extra crazy and creative. The two men approached Robles and told him they were throwing him a “parole party” in the basement. The men got permission from the guards to use the basement where the showers were and Robles thought he was being led downstairs to a whole celebration but once he was guided by the two men there was no one down there, before Carlos could realize anything the two men pulled out large machetes from somewhere and chopped his head clean off. The two men then hacked his arms and legs off then chopped his limbs and torso into pieces making a big mess of blood everywhere, but all they had to do was turn on the showers and let it all go down the drain, then men also washed off the body parts.
The two inmates then coordinated a staged fight coordinated by fellow Latin Kings to create a diversion while both men slipped through a tunnel that led to the butcher shop where the men ran into a rival Black Gangster Disciple gang member working the shop. Although BGDs (GDs) and Latin Kings are enemies the two men offered money and drugs in exchange for this BGD to help dispose of the body parts that were wrapped in plastic bags. The BGD accepted the offer and began feeding body parts into a large meat grinder with pork and beef. It was a perfect night to do this because meatloaf was on the menu. The three men grinded up the whole body into meat accept the skull which according to Knox “rolled around in the meat grinder like a basketball spinning on a metal rim.” The skull had to be taken with the two and was later buried discreetly in the yard.
Later that night the BGDs and Latin Kings were not eating the meat loaf and giving their portions to other inmates which made them seem generous. The other inmates dined on the meat happily not knowing they were all eating parts of Carlos. Only the BGDs and Latin Kings knew what was in the moat loaf and not a single inmate from either gang ate the meat that night and perhaps snickered as the others chowed down. No one was ever prosecuted for this and ironically one of the men went to possibly work as a chef at a government center in the cafeteria after his release according to Knox. Source from (https://ngcrc.com/profile/profile.html).
In the early 1980s Latin Kings opened new territory on the further south side of the city opening turf in the Back of the Yards, Marquette Park, Gage Park, Brighton Park, Mckinley Park, Pullman (115th), Garfield Ridge, Archer Heights, South Deering, East Side, Hedgewish and Ashburn neighborhoods. This was a massive settlement campaign that also landed them in several Chicago area suburbs as well.
The Latin Kings kept their ties pretty tight with their People Nation allies that intensified on the streets in the early 1980s. By 1981, a new directive was handed down from behind prison walls to expand the People Nation on the streets and offer new gang membership. The Latin Kings then recruited more gangs to join the People alliance and that is when they reeled in gangs like the Gaylords, Insane Deuces, Villa Lobos and Cullerton Deuces. This was also the point in time when there were Latin Kings in every white or Hispanic neighborhood in the city. The Kings were now putting in more sleeper cells out in the suburbs and were beginning to bust out in some suburbs like Rockford, Cicero, Berwyn and Joliet.
By the mid-1980s the Latin Kings were spreading into more suburbs and the sleeper cells were opening up and taking in suburban kids interested in gangbanging. By the late 1980s the Latin Kings were now in the majority of Du Page County, Will County, Lake County and Kane County suburbs and all of Cook County. In Will County they started recruiting out of early 80s sleeper cells in Romeoville and Bolingbrook. In Dupage County they opened sets in suburbs like Addison, Schaumberg, Downers Grove and Westmont.
The Latin Kings were aggressively expanding their empire and were looking for more angles to expand the Cocaine, Marijuana, and Heroin pipelines by putting soldiers in the burbs. They also grew into other states and even small towns in rural Illinois. As the Latin Kings continued to grow by the late 1980s tensions with other gangs heated up and more violence ensued. The Latin Kings wanted to flex their muscle and show their dominance in the streets by displaying several acts of violence; this would eventually bring about early tensions with fellow gangs within the People Nation alliance. Sometimes scuffles would break out or there were cold feelings among allies. This was seen as necessary because Latin Kings had to look out for each other more so than any other group out there and members needed to make a living on the streets without interference, however, interalliance wars were often smoothed over after short periods of time in the late 80s. Latin Kings would learn to perceive possible threats from other organizations quickly and be fast to be on the offensive before anything got more out of hand.
In the summer of 1988 King Papo, the man that united all the gangs together, that created the Latin King Nation in 1964 had suddenly disappeared. Rumors flew around that this was an internal hit on his life but there is no confirmation of that, other rumors said that Papo fled the country but once again there was no evidence and no body was ever found. The fact is Papo did not vanish or get killed, instead he kept a lower profile than ever. Right after Papo’s disappearance from the streets, the Latin Kings were left 100% in command to the incarcerated BK and Lord Gino who were still serving sentences for murders since 1972. They now ran the organization from behind bars and took the Latin Kings in a direction that would bring about higher profits and more dominance on the streets and that is the point in time where they started having minor conflicts with fellow People Nation gangs.
In 1991, the Latin Kings developed an “anybody killer” or “almighty don’t like nobody” policy where they declared war on several other People Nation gangs or pushed several others to start a war with them. Some notable allies they begin war with around 1991 were Latin Counts, Bishops, Cullerton Deuces, Some Vice Lord sections, and Insane Deuces. The rival Folks alliance also began engaging in several interralliance wars that year; therefore, the Kings did not really need their allies as much anyway. The Latin Kings were so large at this point that it became too difficult to control the dominance many Latin King sections felt on the streets and to pacify brewing conflicts with allies; not only that by the early 90s as drugs became a hotter commodity for gangs to deal in general other gangs wanted a bigger chunk of the profits in the streets and demanded the Latin Kings back away from certain zones that were designated for Latin Kings, in many of these cases Latin Kings would refuse to negotiate and conflict would ensue.
By the early 1990s Latin Kings could be found in every suburban town in Chicago land whether there was an active section or not. The LKN had spread to all 50 states and even other countries as well, especially Mexico. New York City developed a very large faction of Latin Kings in the 1980s. I am not going into details about the NYC Kings because this is a Chicago and Chicago area gang history site; I do not have much to do with gang histories in other states.
By 1995, BK was released from prison and running things on the street especially all down the 26th street corridor. By 1997, Lord Gino was 1 day from getting out until he was brought up on RICO charges and now is spending the rest of his life in federal prison. In 1999 BK was incarcerated again on felony drug charges and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Although the Latin Kings have been involved in highly sophisticated drug related and violent activities this has still been an organization that was created for maintaining a strong brotherhood among members. There is a deep history here that is to be respected and many have given their lives for the cause or have given up their freedom. One of the main reasons the Latin Kings have grown to be the largest Hispanic organization in Chicago area and one of the largest worldwide is because of the deep sense on brotherhood that was first developed in the old days and showing supreme dominance on the streets.
Please send in old school pics from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. 1950s or 1960s pics will be especially appreciated!
Who founded the Skulls? What year were they started and at what intersection?
Please help out with any stories of King Papo and the Imperials, it will be greatly appreciated.