The Latin Kings are made up mainly of Spanish speaking Mexicans, Latinos and Puerto Ricans, although in this region whites and blacks are also frequently recruited. They are extremely vindictive and adhere to a rigid code of machismo. Violence is often used not only as part of the initiation rite, but also to punish violations of gang rules. Their codes are handed down orally for generations and there is extreme loyalty to the gang.
The Almighty Latin King Nation (ALKQN or ALKN) first
emerged in Chicago during the 1940s when several young Puerto Rican males
organized into a club. Their goal was to help each other overcome the problems
of racism and prejudice that newly arriving Puerto Rican immigrants were
Their slogan was to rise above the racism and to form an organization of "Kings" to better serve themselves and their communities. As time progressed, the group took a criminal path as it's members became involved in violent crimes including murders, drug sales and robberies.
The Latin Kings are Chicago's largest gang and have been involved in numerous violent acts. Although the original members were of Puerto Rican decent, most members are now Mexican-America. They now allow members of all races to join, yet they are mostly composed of Spanish, Caribbean, Latvian, Italian, Portuguese, Mexican or South American members.
In terms of identification, the Latin Kings tend to use 5-pointed crowns. To the older member, the 5-points represent love, respect, sacrifice, honor and obedience. Their graffiti may have a picture of a crown accompanied by the initials "LK" and often will have some sort of inflammatory symbolism aimed at an opposing gang. A lion or a lion wearing a crown with a variety of inscriptions may also be seen. Members identify with the colors yellow or gold.
The Chicago Police Department estimates they have over 25,000 Latin King members residing within their city alone. The gang also has organized chapters in numerous states across the country. These gang sets are referred as to as "Chapters" among members with each reporting to a leader. The head of the entire criminal organization is known as the Inca.
Some of the characteristics that sets the Latin Kings apart from other gangs is they consider themselves to be a community-based organization. They preach Hispanic pride and some King chapters even have formed their own religion called Kingdism. During these meetings members may recite the Latin King pledge, prayer and continually pledge to be prepared to rise to the call for their King or Inca. These meetings are often used by members to discuss retaliating against other gangs, drug disciplined for breaking gang rules.
When compared to most street gangs, the Latin Kings are generally more structured and organized. The gangs rules are strictly enforce and some members celebrate January 6th as "King's Holy Day" and the first week in March as "King's Week."
Fourteens or Norteņos (Neuestra Familia)
Norteno street gang members often identify with the symbols XIV, X4, 14, and 4-dots. Fourteen refers to the 14th letter of the alphabet "N" which stands for Norteno or the Nuestra Familia. The gang has a written constitution, rules (known as the 14-bonds) and an organized leadership structure. The gang associates with the color red and the words Norteno, Norte and Northerner. Other symbols include a 5-pointed star, symbolizing the "North" star and the Huegla bird, the symbol used by the United Farm Workers association--these two tattoos (star & bird) must be earned through committing an assault or murder on their enemies. Nortenos have been identified in nearly every state in the country as well as several European countries.
At the direction of the Nuestra Familia, a pro-Norteno gangster rap group complied two music CDs entitles "GUN (Generation of United Norteno)" and "Quete" (Meaning gun in Spanish. The CDs were effectively distributed to Norteno street gang members. According to federal authorities, the NF's purpose of the CDs was to raise money for the gang and to promote unity among individual Norteno street gangs. Nortenos continue to be heavily involved in drug sales, and murders. They remain bitter enemies of the Mexican Mafia prison gang and Sureno street gangs and the Latin Kings.
Often Norteno gang members dress in red football jerseys
and red baseball caps. A long red canvas belt may be worn looped and hanging
down the front or to the side of the individual. Belt buckles may have the
letter N, 14, XIV or X4 scratched into them. Red bandanas are often worn tied
around the head or hanging from a pocket. Shoes and shoelaces are another way
gang members identify themselves, with red and white or white athletic shoes
with red laces standing for Nortenos. Close attention should be paid to the
soles of the shoes, as there is one popular name brand athletic shoe that has
"XIV" carved into the sole by the manufacturer.
Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)
This gang, commonly referred to as MS-13, enforces an extensive hierarchy. Each local gang is divided into "cliques," which are further divided into smaller groups. Members range from 12-year-olds to adults. MS now includes members from many Latin countries. Common identifiers include the intials "MS-13," "M," "MS" or "Salvadorian Pride. Members often make the hand sign of the letter "M."
The gang is active in Central America, the United States, Mexico and Canada. Since its inception in California and Washington, DC, Mara Salvatrucha members continues to plague many American cities. Many MS members continue to have close connections with El Salvador.
Mara Salvatrucha gang members are known to be involved in all aspects of criminal activity. Because of their ties to their former homeland, they have access to sophisticated military weapons thus making firearms trafficking one of their main criminal enterprises. Other law enforcement agencies have reported MS members were exporting stolen cars to Central America. As with nearly all street gangs, the MS is also involved in drug sales, murder and other common gang crimes
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