Infamous Latin Kings are legalised in Catalonia
9 August 2006
BARCELONA – The infamous urban gang the Latin Kings has been legalised in Catalonia, according to the newspaper El Periodico de Cataluna.
The Latin American gang has been the centre of a number of police investigations for street violence and clashes with its rival gang the Ñetas.
However, the regional government in Catalonia, the Generalitat, has approved the gang’s naming as a cultural association.
From now on, it will be called the Cultural Association of the Latin Kings and Queens of Catalonia.
The authorities said they had taken two months to study the proposal of the Latin Kings to become an association and had found nothing in it which broke the law.
Barcelona town hall, which has overseen the legalisation process, said it would also support the legal registration of the band the Ñetas, but said that would be delayed until September because statutes would have to be drawn up and approved by the General Board of Judicial Bodies.
The legalisation means the Latin Kings are now eligible for the benefits associated with being a legally registered body, such as financial aid, grants and subsidies.
The Generalitat pointed out that the legalisation could be overturned by the courts if a legal investigation found they were carrying out illegal acts.
Recently, a judge in Collado Villalba in Madrid province found a suspect who belonged to the Latin Kings guilty of belonging to an illegal association – the first time that the band has been judged illegal by a court.
The police may take a dim view of Catalonia’s legalisation since they are growing increasingly concerned about the rise of Latin American gangs on the streets of Spain, especially in big cities.
It is believed that the gangs, which are also big in Latin America, started here in around 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 and they share an enthusiasm for hip-hop music and clothing.
Several of their members have been linked to violent crime, including founder Eric Javier Velastegui, an Ecuadorian who was sentenced to 21 years for robbery, kidnapping and rape.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news