Concern at rise of Latin gangs in Madrid

13th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

13 May 2005, MADRID — Police are growing increasingly concerned at the rise Latin American gangs on the streets of Madrid, especially the 'Latin Kings' and the 'Netas'.

13 May 2005

MADRID — Police are growing increasingly concerned at the rise Latin American gangs on the streets of Madrid, especially the 'Latin Kings' and the 'Netas'.

Since last September, Madrid police have identified 407 youths aged 15-17 as members of those two gangs and have arrested 48 of them for crimes such as robbery and assault.

The Latin Kings and the Ñetas, which are also active in Latin America, started in Madrid in 2000.

Eighty percent of their members, according to police investigators, are Ecuadorian, with the rest being mainly Dominican or Colombian along with the odd Peruvian or Spaniard.

Tightly organized and hierarchical, each gang has its own laws, customs and rituals.

They share an enthusiasm for hip-hop music and clothing.

But beyond this, the gang becomes a new 'family' for teenagers from broken homes.

"They join the bands because of a spectacular breakdown of the family," said one of the police officers, who requested anonymity because his work involves undercover operations.

"Their parents have come here to work, they're honest people and they work day and night" while their children are in the streets, the policeman explained.

He said those who end up in gangs "don't study, don't do anything. Their family is the street".

Though gang members will gather in just about any of Madrid's parks, each has its own territory.

The Vallecas district belongs to the Ñetas, while the southside neighborhoods of Usera, Villaverde and Carabanchel are regarded as Latin Kings turf.

Police said the fledgling gang phenomenon requires other approaches beside the mere arrest of delinquents.

"It's a problem that requires social assistance, keeping kids in school during the day, occupational therapy and educating their families so they can control them," said one.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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