The Emergence of the Latin Kings in KY

by Elizabeth Hall 

English: An example of common Latin Kings' van...
English: An example of common Latin Kings' vandalism - showing a crude depiction of a five-pointed crown and the saying, "Amor de Rey" (Love of the King). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGTA) (2011), the trends that stand out in gang activity in the United States are statistics that show an increase in gang membership, and the increase in the control that street level gangs have over the narcotics distribution in the country.  NGTA (2011) reports that 56% of national level street gangs pose a serious to moderate threat to our country.  The Latin Kings are an entrepreneurial style national street gang operation with branches from Washington State to Washington D.C. (NGTA, 2011). 
Latin Kings Activities in KY
English: The Triangle Center development in Le...
English: The Triangle Center development in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On a local level in Lexington, Kentucky,  Foreman (2009) notes that in October of 2009 some members of the Latin Kings went on trial for killing one of their own members for missing meetings and dating the wrong girl.  Foreman (2009) also holds that, when she arrived here in the early 1990’s, working to help law enforcement and began looking around in schools she likened the signs she saw in Kansas City shortly before gang activity exploded there.  When School Officer Jeff Smith (personal communication, December 14, 2012) is asked what is the largest organized crime group in the city, without hesitation he brings out “Latin Kings”.  Foreman (2009) reinforces that notion about t
Latin Kings graffiti of the King Master along ...
Latin Kings graffiti of the King Master along with the abbreviations "L" and "K" on the sides. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
he school officers knowing this activity when she states that a Lexington officer informed her that the youngest member he has seen in a school environment was only nine, and this age was optimal for recruitment.  Mobley (2010), states that the gangs in Lexington tend to operate out of specific geographical locations including Cardinal Valley and now, Center Parkway where most of the Latino population reside.  They commit crimes as small as vandalism and defacement of property when they spray paint the Latin Kings graffiti to homicide as noted earlier by Foreman (2009).
Välkommen till förorten
Välkommen till förorten (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Attributes of Latin Kings
English: This is a picture of a Latin King sho...
English: This is a picture of a Latin King showing his Latin King tattoo--a lion with a crown--and signifying the five point star with his hands, which stands for the "Almighty" in the "Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation". No one else can claim copyright ownership of his picture and the individual in this picture approves of me posting this picture; I release it to the public. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Abadinsky (2009) holds that in order for a group to qualify as organized crime eight attributes must be present.  These are that the group must possess no political agenda, is hierarchal, membership is restricted, they represent a distinctive subculture, propagates on its own, has no problems resorting to violence, tries to establish monopolies in their communities, and hold their own rules and policies. The National Drug Intelligence Center (2003) holds that the Latin Kings are a recognized prison and street gang, predominately Hispanic, share socio-economic circumstances (Mobley, 2010), and distribute narcotics along with committing violent crime.  The Latin Kings recruit and maintain their own membership despite what happens to leaders and try to maintain their territory in the 
community.  They also maintain that the gang operates under a stringent rule and agreement system to maintain order and that they are extremely hierarchal (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2003)
Importance of Emergence in KY
Català: Bandera dels Latins Kings Español: Fla...
Català: Bandera dels Latins Kings Español: Flag of Latin Kings Español: Bandera de los Latin Kings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The importance of the Latin Kings emergence in Kentucky signals several things such as increased criminal activity in areas of the city and state, and increased violence, but also some more ominous problems such as corruption in the military bases or even local police forces as noted by the NGTA (2011).  Latin Kings have their members purposely join the police forces to stay ahead of the game by bribing or blackmailing public officials and officers, and they have members placed in the Army, Army Reserves, Navy, and Marine Corps.  When these members get out they have advanced military training to use to fight rival gangs, and, when they are serving, aid in the transnational crime of narcotics smuggling in and out of foreign countries. Latin Kings also have deep ties to the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization (MDTO) known as the Sinaloa Cartel, which is one of the two largest cartels in Mexico.  The Latin Kings are affiliated with the people nation in the prison system and will actively recruit new members through Kentucky’s correctional system and have direct ties to the Chicago Latin Kings, which means that they will also participate in the trafficking of narcotics through the country by transporting them in and out of state lines.  Their presence also facilitates narcotics sales throughout the state.
English: A picture of Lexington, Kentucky take...
English: A picture of Lexington, Kentucky taken by helicopter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Latin Kings have gained a larger presence in Kentucky, as part of the larger national problem of gang proliferation in the United States (Foreman 2009).  Influence by the Chicago based Latin Kings is felt from Washington State to Washington D.C. and the suburbs of Chicago and beyond.  This adversely affects the communities that have increased gang membership, the state of Kentucky, and the entire country as gang violence; drug crimes, and influence by the Sinaloa Cartel permeate our society through the schools, military, law enforcement, correctional systems, and neighborhoods.  Abadinsky (2009) reports of federal agents, journalists, and citizens murdered in the wake of the growth of gang influence in our border towns, along with increased violent crimes, and if the pattern ensues then it is just a matter of time until this extreme cartel violence spreads throughout the entire nation. 

Abadinsky, H. (2009).  Organized crime (9th Ed.).  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning
ISBN: 0-495-59966-2
Foreman, K., (2009).  Criminal Street Gangs Invested in Kentucky.  Retrieved From:  https://docjt.ky.gov/Magazines/Issue%2031/KLE_Feature-On%20the%20Street_Fall%2009.pdf
Mobley, (2010).  Ray Larson Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Episode #19 Gang Unit Presentation.  Retrieved From: http://www.lexingtonprosecutor.com/?p=3561
National Drug Intelligence Center, (2003).  Georgia Drug Threat Assessment.  Retrieved From: http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs3/3669/overview.htm
National Gang Intelligence Center, (2011).  2011 National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends.  Retrieved From: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment-emerging-trends

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