FBI: Latin Kings street gang runs just like a business

September 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Court filings, witness testimony, and undercover FBI recordings show how the Latin Kings street gang was being run like a business.

The gang had a CEO, a constitution, and its own justice system. The constitution was required reading for thousands of gang members in Chicago.

The document came to light in the case of the man who federal prosecutors say was the "Supreme Inca" of the Latin Kings - essentially the gang's CEO.

In Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, Latin Kings control many corners.

Federal prosecutors say Fernando King was the gang's leader. They say in the decade before a raid, as many as 10,000 gang members reported to him.

A few turned government informant and, with the FBI's help, recorded him.

"When you act crazy, you don't know how to drink, we're going to beat you up, brother," King is heard saying on a wiretap.

On the recordings and in court documents, King comes off as a ruthless CEO struggling to keep control of his underlings.

King pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Prosecutors, though, think he ordered or knew about countless shootings and murders.

On the tapes, King is heard complaining that not all of his soldiers are capable of killing to protect the gang's turf.

"We got soldiers, educate them, educate them in some way man... find the killer out the crowd man so you don't send the next poor kid who don't know how to kill to the next stupid mission... that's why the mob was so successful, bro. The mob was very picky, if you were the little stupid geek out the crowd. Ah, yeah you were, handle this, the paperwork man... but if you were the killer out the crowd you playin' with [expletive] Scarface right there, right? Nowadays you want everybody to be a killer," King is heard saying on the tapes.

The Latin King constitution details what's expected of disciples, including a willingness to kill or be killed for the good of the gang.

It lays out the gang hierarchy and its own system of justice. Members, for example, are not allowed to use heroin.

The FBI recordings capture King worrying that bar brawls and drunkenness are ruining the effectiveness of his street gang.

"People look at the Latin Kings as bad people, man. And we only respond, we only respond to negativity. We're approached in a negative way, we respond in a negative way," says King on the tapes.

The kill-or-be-killed mentality is so prevalent, the gang set up a funeral fund to pay the final expenses of slain Latin Kings.

As for alleged leader Fernando King, prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence him to the maximum: 40 years in a federal lockup. Sentencing was postponed Thursday and is now scheduled for next month.


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