|Formerly known as||Imperial Gangsters|
|Colors||Black and pink|
|Primary ethnicities||Latino (Mostly Puerto Rican)|
|Symbols||Pink panther, shotgun, and rounded 7 point crown with a "G" in the middle|
|Founder||Carlos “Little Mexico” Quintanilla|
|Founding neighborhood||Logan Square|
|Main neighborhood||Logan Square|
Carlos Quintilla, founder of one of the gangs that made up the Imperial Gangsters then became the first President over both Imperial Gangster gangs and entire organization by 1971. Years active 1969-1973, image from Chicago Tribune December 12, 1979
Photo from 1978 Chicago Tribune article about gangs
The Imperial Gangsters are a rather late bloomer compared to the history of their allies and enemies on the north and west sides of Chicago; regardless, the IGs grew to become one of the largest gangs in Chicago with membership in the thousands. The story of this organization only goes back to the year 1969 in the Logan Square neighborhood at the corner of Armitage and Drake.
Logan Square was mostly a white community but the “white flight” was starting to become a phenomenon in this neighborhood as Puerto Rican people were moving in.
By 1969 a much larger wave of Puerto Ricans were coming in and white gangs in the area were becoming infuriated. This was the same year that the Gaylords were forming in Logan Square along Palmer Street and the notorious Lawndale and Altgeld set. The Gaylords’ main goal was to stop Puerto Rican migration into Logan Square and they absorbed smaller white street gangs in the area to further their cause. Eventually the young Puerto Rican youths were getting tired of being bullied by gangs like the Gaylords or other groups of angry whites so they formed their own club called the “Imperial Gangsters.” The first appointed leader of the Imperial Gangster was Carlos “Little Mexico” Quintanilla who was only 12 or 13 years old at the time (Chicago Tribune, Keegan, P 1, Dec 12 1979). Soon after the Imperial Gangsters formed they opened a set on Drake and Palmer “The Motherland.”
Around the holiday season of 1969 another group formed in West Humboldt Park at the corner of Division and Grand “Cameron Gangsters” called the “Imperial Spanish Gangsters,” who were under the leadership of “Spanky.” These were two separate gangs but they were related to each other. The ISGs were kind of like an offshoot of the IGs but they were also heavily united and got together and decided their colors would be black and pink and they would use a rounded crown to separate themselves from the Latin King’s crown. “Spanky” was only in command for a very short time and by 1971 “Godfather” took over leadership.
In the year 1972 the Imperial Gangsters of Logan Square became heavily influenced by the movie “The Godfather” that came out that year. These high school kids would visit “The Armitage” which was a theater that existed at 3553 W. Armitage Avenue which was right on the corner of Armitage and Drake where the IGs first started.
Under the leadership of “Little Mexico” the IGs were able to establish a relationship with the theater’s owner and offered protection from rival gangs in the area just like what the Mafia does. The IGs acted as ushers in the theater and there were often 50+ members seen in the theater. IGs also started dressing like Italian gangsters wearing the long coats, Al Capone shoes, the long coats with the white scarfs and they even twirled around canes. “Little Mexico” also wanted his members to have guns, so now every member at least carried a small pistol (Chicago Tribune, Keegan, P 1, Dec 12 1979).
“Little Mexico” and the leadership of the Imperial Spanish Gangsters held a meeting at The Armitage movie theater one day in 1972 to discuss fully merging themselves into one organization just known as the “Imperial Gangsters.” Now there were about 200+ Imperial Gangsters on the streets of West Humboldt Park and Logan Square. There would still be separate leadership for each faction; however, they were now under one name and one organization. Around the time of this merger the IGs now were offering protection to a cleaners and a restaurant that offered them free stuff and free services. This success that the IGs were coming across was soon met with envy from the powerful Latin Kings street gang. The Latin Kings wanted to be the only Puerto Rican street gang in all of Humboldt Park and now they were spreading into several more north side neighborhoods including Logan Square this eventually brought the IGs into a full scale war with Latin Kings. Imperial Gangster’s biggest enemies were now Latin Kings, Gaylords and Simon City Royals.
In 1973, “Little Mexico” was now 17 years old and was about to have a child; therefore, he left the Imperial Gangsters gang life and went to college then went on to work with gang members helping them to turn their lives around. After Little Mexico left, “Mad Dog” took over in 1973, and he ran it until he was imprisoned in 1975.
In the mid-1970s, the IGs opened new territory at Sawyer and Armitage in Logan Square and North Ave and Hamlin in West Humboldt Park. This was also the point in time when Gaylords and Latin Kings were getting really large in size in IG territory, these gangs were becoming giants. The IGs had something in common with the Latin Disciples (MLDs), Spanish Cobras, Latin Eagles and Orquestra Albany, and that was that they all hated Latin Kings and were all outnumbered by Latin Kings. These gangs began drawing closer to each other until they became pretty tight by 1978.
The in year 1978 these gangs created the “United Latino Organization” (ULO) which unified these street gangs against Latin Kings and the rival “UFO” which consisted of 5 large white gangs that included the Gaylords. Later on that year on November 11, 1978 the Imperial Gangsters joined the Folk Nation alliance that was created behind prison walls. Spanish Cobras, Latin Disciples, Latin Eagles and Orquestra Albany all had joined this alliance so it was a perfect fit for the IGs.
In the late 1970s Latinos were beginning to colonize the neighborhood of Hermosa especially by Kelvyn Park and this brought IGs to the neighborhood. The Spanish Cobras were beginning an attempt to take over Kelvyn Park but assistance was greatly needed because the Gaylords and the Young Freaks (Stoned Freaks) were battling Cobras back. Imperial Gangsters had already attended Kelvyn Park High School and were fighting with white gangs that went there now IGs were moving into the neighborhood.
In the 1980s and into the 1990s the IGs opened territory in Hermosa, Irving Park, Albany Park, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Belmont – Cragin, Marquette Park and Brighton Park. The IGs also opened in some suburbs like Cicero, Franklin Park, and were the first gang to arrive in the suburb of Bensenville in 1982.
By the early 1990s the IGs were engaging in several interalliance gang wars especially with Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Cobras. In between 1991 and 1992 MLDs, IGs alongside Latin Eagles and Spanish Cobras began engaging in a three way war which led to the creation of three sub alliances within the Folk Nation. The “Insane Family,” The “Maniac Family” and the “Almighty Family.” The Imperial Gangsters was a part of the “Almighty family” when it first formed in 1992 and still held an alliance with Simon City Royals and North Side Insane Popes as they joined the Almighty alliance as well. With the IGs in the midst of more gang wars and facing more incarcerations the IGs withdrew their troops out of Brighton Park and Marquette Park. The south side was not their home anyway and they were cut off from a lot of support from either allies or the rest of the nation so the south side needed to be closed up.
The IGs did open solid territory in the suburb of Franklin Park “The Jungle” in the 1980s; however, the Cicero chapter had to close down by the late 1980s but Franklin remained strong. Other than that, the IGs had not lost too much territory over time and had kept the vast majority of their Logan Square turf. Some sets in Logan Square had closed along with Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park because of the gentrification that brought many yuppies and hipsters to IG neighborhoods, but the gang still remains strong in Logan Square.
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