The defendant in the case, as I found out after the trial was over, was accused of a murder. While on the surface, to an untrained person, he didn’t fit the description of a Latin King. He wasn’t Latino and he didn’t have any ancestry from Latin America or the Caribbean required for membership in the Latin Kings. Like so many other Latin Kings I have encountered through the years, he fit the description perfectly. He is a criminal and he is willing to kill. So many Latin Kings in the gang are not Latino. That’s not what they are about. As I explained to the defense attorney who tried to establish that his client couldn’t be a Latin King because he was African American and did not have Latino blood running through his veins. With the Latin Kings, like so many other gangs, it’s not about quality, it’s about quantity. There is power in numbers and that is what they are all about.
In February of 2011, police and FBI agents in Newburgh, NY, a once picturesque town on the Hudson River about an hour north of New York City, arrested 31 members of the Latin Kings on RICO charges. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said about the justification for the arrests, during the press conference , “Because gang violence and drug dealing on the streets of Newburgh remain intolerable, we mean to and we must put an end to the scourge that calls itself the Latin Kings,” One murder charged in the RICO case was the killing of Jeffrey Zachary a 15 year old innocent bystander. The innocent teen was shot by high-ranking members in the Latin King’s organization, when they went after a rival but accidentally shot and killed Jeffrey Zachary.
In January 2011 in Plainfield NJ, the leader of the local Latin Kings was sentenced to 50 years in prison after he was found guilty in the 2008 attempted murder of a Plainfield man outside a nightclub. He and another Latin King stabbed their victim numerous times until they thought he was dead and left him on the street to die. Had it not been for a passing good Samaritan, the victim would have certainly died that night at the hands of these violent gangsters. In a recent report published about gangs in NJ, the Latin Kings were listed as one of the largest gangs in the states.
The Latin Kings, a product of the Chicago streets, is still prevalent in Chi-town and one of the dominant gangs on the southside but in New York City and the rest of the East Coast, Latin Kings have an enormous presence which overshadows the Motherland, the name the Latin Kings use to refer to Chicago. With two major factions, the Kings Motherland Chapter, based out of and following the Chicago ideology, and the Bloodline Chapter, based out of NYC and loyal to the founder of the NY Latin Kings, Luis ‘King Blood” Felipe, there seems to be a struggle for the kingdom.
This year is the year to watch the Latin Kings across the US. Chapters and tribes are spread out into all 50 states and overseas. Many old-timers are getting out of prison after long sentences for many violent crimes and a charismatic leader was recently released after a decade behind bars. But in the 2011 Maryland RICO case, the Latin King Ambassador himself, King Skibee, the Royal Lion, took a lengthy plea behind bars to avoid a trial and a probable lifetime in federal prison. Who will take the reins and reign supreme over the Latin Kings across the nation. Or will there be a showdown for the Kingdom and Power?