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Court bans Latin Kings crime gang in Madrid

22 June 2007

MADRID – A court outlawed the Madrid chapter of a Latino street gang, rejecting arguments that it was a cultural association helping immigrants, and insisting that all it really did was fight with rival gangs.

The Madrid Provincial Court found the local branch of the Latin Kings gang guilty of being a criminal organization, ordered it dissolved and sentenced 11 suspected leaders _ most from Ecuador _ to jail terms of up to three years.

The Latin Kings are an offshoot of a gang founded by Hispanic immigrants living in Chicago in the 1970s. It spread to other U.S. cities and has a large branch in Ecuador.

The court said the Madrid chapter was founded in 2000, and while initially peaceful and dedicated to defending Latino values and helping fellow immigrants, it started turning violent in 2004 by waging turf wars, mainly with a rival group called the Netas.

“One can only conclude that the fundamental objective (of the gang) is to commit criminal acts,” the court said.

The Latin Kings have no physical headquarters in Madrid, and existed in a kind of legal limbo: they were not registered with any government agency as an association with a recognized legal status, but they were not banned either. Now, they are. The court’s ruling Thursday means it is illegal to be a Latin King.

Chapters exist in other major Spanish cities, but this court has jurisdiction only in Madrid and the surrounding province.

Police estimate there are around 600 members of the Latin Kings gang in the Madrid area.

The court said the gang met several key requirements for conviction on charges of being a criminal organization: criminal intent, existence over a period of time, a formal structure which in this case was hierarchical and quite complex, and multiple membership.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news