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Organized Crime

Midwest And East Coast Gangs

Chicago in the 1920s was home to Al Capone and his mobsters, most of whom had Italian roots. They grew enormously wealthy during Prohibition by supplying alcohol to the public. The Mafia in Chicago was commonly called the "Outfit." At the start of the twenty-first century, the Outfit was still operating in Chicago and its suburbs. In addition to the Outfit, street gangs organized during the 1940s and 1950s. The Latin Kings, predominately Hispanic, became one of Chicago's most violent gangs.

This member of an Hispanic zoot suit gang was arrested after rioting in Los Angeles in 1943. He wears the distinctive suit after which the gang is named. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Arrested members of the Latin Kings often ended up in East Coast prisons in Connecticut and New York, where they formed the Almighty Latin King Nation. By the early 1990s, numerous Latin Kings were in the prison system and also had hundreds of members on the streets of New York and New Jersey. One of the nation's most notorious street gangs, the motto of the Latin Kings was "once a king, always a king." Latin Kings are associated with the People Nations, a loose organization of dangerous gangs including the Vicelords, Bishops, Gaylords, Latin Counts, and Kents.

The Gangster Disciples, originating in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s, also spread to the East Coast. Highly organized and specializing in drug sales, Gangster Disciples were found in most East Coast cities by the end of the 1990s and became the largest Folk Nation gang. The Folk Nation is a collection of gangs who banded together as protection from the Latin Kings. Members of the Folk Nation include the Black Gangster Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Black Disciples, Latin Disciples, Two Sixers, and Internation Posse—made up of many ethnicities but joined together as protection from the Latin Kings.

The Bloods and the Crips also sent gang members to the East Coast. Spreading out into neighborhoods across New York City, the Bloods attracted many members. By 2000 the Bloods were the most violent East Coast gang. Youth affiliated with the Los Angeles Crips traveled east in the 1980s and within a decade had a major presence along the East Coast.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawOrganized Crime - Rico, Organized Crime Offenses, Characteristics Of Organized Crime, Early Las Vegas And The Mafia