|Colors||Black and baby blue (light blue)|
|Primary ethnicities||Latino (Puerto Rican)|
|Symbols||Pitchfork 1974-present, monk, swastika, heart with devil horns and tail 1974-present|
|Affiliation||Folks since 1978|
|Founder||Albert "King Hitler" Hernandez|
|Founding neighborhood||East Humboldt Park section of West Town neighborhood, Rockwell and Potomac|
|Main neighborhood||East Humboldt Park section of West Town neighborhood|
There is some major misconception about the early history of the Maniac Latin Disciples that was even prevalent on the popular television show Gangland that talked about the MLDs being formed as a gang called the “Latin Scorpions” by a very young teenage boy that was only 12 or 13 when he started the gang, the truth is that teenage boy was no teenager and in fact a fully grown man that was about 27 years old and born in the year 1939.
Albert “Hitler” Hernandez also known as “Fast Eddy” was a co-founder of a gang called the “Imperials” that formed at 18th and Wabash in the South Loop section of the Near South Side neighborhood when he was about 15 years old in 1954. Fast Eddy went on to be one of the first Latin Kings back in 1964 when four gangs unified to create the Latin Kings, one of those gangs was the Imperials and Fast Eddy was high ranking, he also relocated to the northern part of the city to East Humboldt Park. In the year 1966 Fast Eddy no longer saw eye to eye with the rest of the Latin Kings and split off and began associating with a group of Latin Scorpions that formed about two years prior. There were about 12 members within this association, Hernandez then split this group of Scorpions away to create the “Disciples” in 1966 and him and his new gang were selling drugs and congregating at the intersection of Hirsch and Rockwell.
Hernandez ran a tight ship with his members selling drugs and Hernandez taking a nice size cut of the profits. Hernandez was so charismatic and Hernandez loved reading about how Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler had such charismatic control over Germany that he adopted the nickname “Hitler” by 1968 and he marched his Disciple soldiers to take over the intersection of Rockwell and Potomac “The Twilight Zone.” The Twilight Zone nickname came from the fact that you did not know if you were ever going to come out alive. Hernandez then set up an aggressive recruiting policy that modeled after the Latin Kings organization he once came from as the Disciples pressured many youths to join the gang.
By 1969, the Disciples had swelled with a membership of over 100 members in East Humboldt Park and they were soon to spread their territory further.
By 1970 Hitler changed the gangs’ name to the “Latin Disciples” in order to give their name a little Latino spice in the name. By this point in time the Latin Disciples had grown quite a bit and were appearing in and around Latin King turf. The Latin Kings became jealous of the quick Latin Disciples’ success and also they wanted revenge on Hernandez for breaking off from the Latin Kings four years earlier and this led to an incident in the summer of 1970 that would change the Latin Disciples forever. On one hot summer day a group of Latin Kings walked into Latin Disciples’ neighborhood wearing their sweaters out in the open and not caring. It was disrespect and also meant you wanted war when you walk into another gangs’ neighborhood like this. Albert Hernandez told the Latin Kings to remove their sweaters because in case they did not know, it was disrespect especially since they were allies. The Latin Kings refused and became downright disrespectful; therefore, King Hitler got violent with them and a big fight ensued. One of the Latin Kings involved in the fight pulled out a knife and stabbed King Hitler to death. The Latin Disciples were infuriated over the death of Hernandez and it was the first time they would suffer the death of a leader. The Latin Disciples then launched a full scale war on the Latin Kings led by their new leader “Prince Diablo.” Out of respect for Hitler the title “King” died along with Hernandez and at that point forward the new title would be “Prince,” and Prince Diablo was the first to carry this title until the late 1970s.
Now that the Latin Disciples were in an all-out state of war with the Latin Kings they were free to gun for areas that Latin Kings controlled such as parts of Wicker Park on the east or West Humboldt Park on the west.
While Rios was incarcerated he reached out to the Black Gangsters Disciples at this point in time and asked to be unified with the BGDs while incarcerated in Stateville Correctional Facility in Crest Hill Illinois. The Leader of the Black Gangsters Disciples Larry Hoover had just entered this correction facility in November of 1973 after he was convicted of a murder. Hoover had always been a strong advocate of working with gangs of another race, in fact, the Black Gangsters Disciples worked with a few allies in the fall of 1973 while Hoover was on trial to deal with one of their biggest enemies the Conservative Vice Lords. The BGDs had reached out to Ambrose, Ashland Vikings and Simon City Royals for aide in dealing with Vice Lords; therefore, Hoover got a taste of getting assistance with white and Latino gangs before he went to the joint. He saw a unity with the Latin Disciples as an opportunity for a new business development.
Rudy Rios then united the Latin Disciples with the Black Gangsters Disciples in a unity that was known as the “Spanish Gangsters Disciples.” Latin Disciples that would end up in prison between 1974 and 1978 would become Spanish Gangster Disciples. This unity also brought about business deals in the streets between BGDs and Latin Disciples.
In 1976 the Latin Disciples and Spanish Cobras formed an alliance called “Young Latino Organization” or “YLO.” Then in 1978 the unity was expanded to the Imperial Gangsters and Latin Eagles to form the “United Latino Organization” or “ULO” that reached other various clubs that hung out with them like Orquestra Albany.
The ULO unity would be taken a step further on November 11, 1978 when Larry Hoover sat down with the leaders of both allied gangs and enemy gangs in Pontiac Correctional Facility (he was transferred here that same year) and created the Folk Nation alliance while his enemies created the People Nation alliance right then and there. It was at this meeting where the Latin Disciples joined the Folk Nation which brought them even closer to the Black Gangsters Disciples. Out of this Folk Nation unity was the “Latin Familia” or “Latin Family” which was a unity of Folks that would work to strengthen the Latino gangs involved in it such as the Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Satan Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Eagles, Ashland Vikings, Orquestra Albany, Ambrose and Two Six. This would end up helping the Latin Disciples to expand their drug empire especially now that they could walk the streets united with Simon City Royals, Spanish Cobras and Imperial Gangsters.
Right before this unity was formed Ramon “Prince Chi Chi” Vasquez was shot and killed by a member of the Insane Unknowns named Miguel Vargas who was arrested for the crime and tried in juvenile court. “Chi Chi” was the newest prince of the Latin Disciples and was only 16 or 17 years old when he was gunned down. The Disciples were infuriated over this murder and were now in a full scale war with the Insane Unknowns. At this point in time 23 year old Jose “Prince Freckles” Cedeno took over as the new Prince of the Latin Disciples and by 1979 he was running a major drug ring at Rockwell and Potomac thanks to the connections of Latin Disciple Hugo “Juice” Herrera who had ties to the notorious Herrera family drug cartel, which eventually brought Police attention by October of 1979 (Southern Illinoisian P 22, July 17 1980).
By mid-July 1980 the DEA and the Chicago Police’s Organized Crime Unit closed in on the operation that originally started at just Rockwell and Potomac but soon spread to four other locations on the north side and northwest side. 46 people were arrested instantly in this drug bust, mostly Latin Disciples and the police were out to snag 17 others. The police said in a statement to the press that you could buy any drug you wanted at Rockwell and Potomac and cars were literally lined up waiting to get their drugs (Southern Illinoisian P 22, July 17 1980).
1 year earlier on the 4th of July 1979 Cedena was arrested for running a drug ring at the same corner of Rockwell and Potomac along with two other street corners Washtenaw and Hirsch and at Evergreen and Wastenaw in cooperation with the Spanish Cobras. 18 members of both gangs were arrested but they got away with it as “Prince Freckles” was able to restart up his operation months later, once again based on Rockwell and Potomac, but in 1980 he was actually convicted (Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1979 Page 3). This showed now the Latin Disciples were heavily in the drug business, Freckles was the one that started the Latin Disciples on a path of highly complex drug operations and made the Latin Disciples regard Rockwell and Potomac even more as a sacred corner.
After Cedeno was put away in prison, a new leader emerged to take control of the Latin Disciples. This would be 19 year old Fernando “Prince Fernie” Zayas. Zayas would continue on where Cedeno left off expanding the empire and bringing in drug profits. On July 2, 1983 Prince Fernie wanted to let the Insane Unknowns know that he did not forget about Ramon Prince Chi Chi Vasquez. Zayas even had a tattoo on his left hand that says “Chi Chi rest in peace.”
On Friday night July 1, 1983 Zayas and his friends were partying it up when word was that Miguel Vargas was in the area hanging out with his friends out on the porch watching T.V. after 1 A.M. that night. Zayas hated Vargas because back in 1978 Vargas, then 15 years old, shot and killed Prince Chi Chi. In 1979 Vargas pleaded guilty to the murder in juvenile court; however, he was back on the streets by 1983 and Zayas was gunning for him to avenge Chi Chi. On that Friday night/Saturday morning Zayas and Jose “Baby” Rodriguez and two others took a car from Juanita Rodriguez without her knowing. The car pulled up to the apartments at 1438 west Catalpa in the Andersonville section of the Edgewater neighborhood where Vargas was with his two friends Ruben Gutierrez, 20 years old, and Luis Cuaresma, 17 years old were watching the outdoor T.V. on the first floor and conversing. Zayas and one other Latin Disciple got out of the car and fired several shots at the three on the porch. The main target Miguel Vargas was killed at the scene along with one other and the third died at a nearby hospital. Zayas and the MLDs got their revenge for the killing and celebrated later that night (People V. Zayas 1989) (Chicago Tribune July 3, 1983, page 3). At first, the Latin Disciples got away with the killing until later that month witnesses started coming forward and saying they either saw Zayas do the killing or they heard him brag about it which all led to Zayas getting arrested by August and got him convicted of murder and sentenced to two life sentences which he is still serving.
Incarceration did not stop “Prince Fernie” from running the Latin Disciples, he was still the Prince of the nation and for the first time, the Latin Disciples on the street were being controlled by an imprisoned leader. As the 1980s progressed the Latin Disciples grew in size into the hundreds in gang membership. Latin Disciples also spread their influence outside of East and West Humboldt Park opening territory in Logan Square (and Bucktown), Hermosa, North Center, southern West Town, Belmont – Cragin, West Ridge (Rosemont and California), Near West Side (Tri Taylor area, Taylor and Oakley), Gage Park (south side), Irving Park and Avondale. These additional territories would open all throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. The strongest sets would still be Rockwell and Potomac and Talman and Wabansia.
Starting in 1989, the Latin Disciples joined the SGD (Spanish Growth And Development) Coalition or “La Tabla” in prison, which was an attempt to organize the Latin Folks gangs by creating an organized council within the Folk nation that would keep any brewing interalliance wars from popping off.
The Latin Disciples were one of the main gangs at the top seat of the council alongside their biggest allies the Spanish Cobras. The SGD basically gave complete power to Latino and white gangs to govern themselves without the African American Folk Nation gangs intervening. Instead of being a positive thing for the Latin Folks, SGD ended up having a reverse effect. The Latin Disciples were at the head of the La Tabla; therefore, they were one of the main decision making organizations if disputes were brought before La Tabla, this apparently made the Latin Disciples think they could run everything and they began wandering into allies’ drug turf and infringing on drug turf boundaries. Latin Disciples also felt they had superiority over their allies and this especially did not vibe with the Spanish Cobras and small conflicts began to happen between the two organizations that led them to shoot at each other here and there. Since Latin Disciples were high on La Tabla, Spanish Cobra grievances often went unresolved, which angered the Cobras.
Both gangs are a part of the Folk Nation alliance; however, by 1991 making money was way more important than this alliance and the drug money was pouring in by the millions at this point. The two gangs began getting violent with each other and by 1992 full scale war was launched between the two gangs that escalated into an all-out blood bath. In 1991 war was beginning, by 1992 the alliance was fully severed to the point that the Spanish Cobras dropped the pitchfork from their literature and they created the “Insane Familia” while the Latin Disciples started the “Maniac Familia” which became two separate and warring factions of Folks gangs and this brought the end of the ULO once and for all.
The Latin Disciples finally officially changed their name to the “Maniac Latin Disciples” in 1992. The History Channel show gangland says they changed their name in 1973 which is not true at all. If you look at all photos of MLD tags from the 1970s, 1980s and even early 1990s it is all tagged with “LD” or “Latin Disciples,” other times you might see “Maniac” or “Maniac Disciples” but it was not an official name back then and most of the time “Latin Disciple” was used. The Prefix “Maniac” comes from Pete “The Burner” Correa in 1973 when he was arrested and supposedly thrown from the police station window. In his trial he cussed out the judge and said he was a “maniac;” therefore, since 1973 the “maniac” part of the name was thrown around here and there but it was not a requirement yet. It was not until 1992 that the “Maniac” was an official part of the “Maniac Latin Disciple” name and “Latin Disciple” was to never be used again.
Wars between MLDs and Latin Kings were already legendary since 1970 but now the Spanish Cobras would become equally hated enemies after being such close friends in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1990s the war was just getting heated, up but by the mid-1990s the war had fully blossomed into deep and unfixable hate. By 1996 the two gangs hated each other as much as they hated Latin Kings or other People Nation gangs.
Things heated up for the worse in February of 1994 when the Spanish Cobras killed a MLD named Nelson “Wolfie” Vargas. Nobody was convicted of the murder but the MLDs blamed the Cobras. Now fast forward to the year 1996. At the intersection of Talman and Wabansia “Real Side,” Enrique “Prince Rick Dog” Garcia and his second in command, 26 year old Johnny “Don Loco” Almodover were successfully moving record high profits of drugs on this corner, in fact, it began to surpass the operations at Rockwell and Potomac that was being commanded by the “Bum Brothers,” mainly Jaime “Tuffy Bum” Ruiz. Tuffy Bum asked the street Prince Rick Dog for a larger cut of the profits at the Real Side but he was turned down. The Bum Brothers became very jealous of Rick Dog’s operations and they felt cheated by their boss. The Bums began to conspire in secret against Rick Dog and they knew the prison leader and the head of La Tabla, Fernando Zayas would not approve of the removal of Rick Dog, in fact, he supported Rick Dog and put him in power as the street leader in the first place. The Bums then began to supply Zayas with all the drugs he needed to get high on while behind bars. Zayas had become addicted to drugs and the Bums made it worse. It was then called out that Zayas was an addict and not fit to run the nation; therefore, he was expelled from leadership and kicked off La Tabla. He would later renounce his membership in MLD. The Bums secretly and successfully removed Zayas now their next step was removal of Rick Dog. The Bum Brothers then added fuel to the Cobra/Disciple fire by going out and causing more trouble with Spanish Cobras making them mad and this led to an incident on February 7, 1996 (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way, P. 202 and 203). On that day at the street corner of Keystone and Armitage the Spanish Cobras opened fire at a Maniac Latin Disciple named Angel “Hi Lo” Alamo and shot him through his right cheek in his face and he was able to spit the bullet out. This shooting angered the MLDs and now a call to action was needed for this, mainly the pressure came from the Twilight Zone as the Bums put heavy pressure on Rick Dog to respond to the attack they secretly started. Talman and Wabansia was being feuded over by both Cobras and MLDs because on this street corner lots of money was to be made from drug sales and both gangs were frothing at the mouth. At that current point in time the MLDs were running that street corner and were not going to let Cobras get in the way of success. On this day “Don Loco” held a meeting with his fellow MLDs to get revenge for the killing of “Wolfie” and the shooting of “Hi Lo” and also to show the Spanish Cobras not to touch Talman and Wabansia. The MLDs met at a house at Thomas and Washtenaw “Murdertown” to discuss a later meeting on Tuesday Feb 13th once again at Talman and Wabansia on exactly how they were going to get revenge. The meeting was to be attended by about 30 top “Governors” of the gang. The meeting was said to be so mandatory that if you missed it you would get a severe beating and you could not even get a pass from it even if your significant other was going to have your baby that day. At that meeting Almodover said he wanted to “Take it to the Cobras” and wanted every Cobra dead. He set up 3 teams of assassins that he handpicked as ones that he thought were potential killers and the others he waved off and told them to stay inside and out of the way. The guns were brought out, an AK-47, a .380 and a .45 caliber pistol. The shooters were instructed to dress in all black with black pants, black hoodies and black ski masks. Don Loco also called for “Dome shots” meaning shoot the Cobras in the head only, by any means necessary. Don Loco also ordered the shootings to happen at around 5 P.M. that evening when dusk was settling in and witnesses would have a hard time seeing the shooting or Cobras would have a hard time seeing the shooters coming. This was also a shift change for the closest East Humboldt Park Chicago Police and also it was rush hour so traffic would slow down police and ambulance response times. It was a carefully devised plan and it started on the street corner of Cortland and Mozart when team 1 struck with the AK-47 and shot at three Cobras hitting one of them in the hip and another in the neck but both survived. Evergreen and Washtenaw was next when team 2 attacked which consisted of a MLD top enforcer who emerged from an alleyway and put a 16 year old Cobra in a head lock after he shot the Cobra as he tried to flee and told him he was going to die then shot him twice in the top of the head which left the young Cobra blind for the rest of his life. Team 3 struck at Bosworth and Lemoyne and wounded another Cobra but once again no one was killed (Chicago Tribune August 29, 1996).
At Maplewood and Hirsch the Cobras struck back and shot a lady MLD in the back, but she survived. Then a little while later Cobras opened fire again at MLDs again and shot a MLD in the neck at Rockwell and Cortez. It took a few days for word to get back to “Don Loco” and the rest of the MLDN that not a single Cobra was killed. To make it worse Almodover was arrested and later convicted and given a heavy sentence of a minimum of 45 years in prison which he is still serving time for.
More problems would come for the MLDs when a faction of the gang known as “The Bums” headed by Jaime “Tuffy” Ruiz would gear toward a complete takeover of the organization and Enrique “Rick Dog” Garcia stood in their way. The Bums consisted not only of “Tuffy” but also old schooler Jose “Baby” Rodriguez who was the same “Baby” that helped Fernando “Prince Fernie” Zayas gun down Insane Unknowns in Andersonville in 1983, “Baby” got out of prison around this time after doing time for that shooting. Other members were “Bum,” David “little Bum” Hernandez, “Dusty,” “Waldy,” “Fidel,” and “Bajia.”
Jamie “Tuffy Bums” Ruiz ordered the death of “Rick Dog” on April the 3rd 1996. Garcia was shot dead in the driver seat of his car when gunman pulled up and shot him dead. It was the first time an MLD Prince had been killed by fellow gang members. There were over 1,000 attendees at Garcia’s funeral. Light blue and black flowers shaped into a pitchfork were used at the service and gang members tossed several guns into Garcia’s casket as it lowered into the ground (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way, P. 203). With Garcia dead and Loco locked up, Francisco “Pimp Daddy” Garcia took over control the Maniac Latin Disciples, at least the side that opposed the Bums.
Shortly after the killing of Enrique Garcia, Pimp Daddy’s supporters shot and killed Ruiz for killing Garcia. The “Bums” were then infuriated over the death of Ruiz and a civil war broke out within the MLDN between the Talman and Wabansia MLDs and the Rockwell and Potomac MLDs.
The “Bums” felt justified with killing Rick Dog because they felt he allowed Don Loco to recklessly carry out the shootings on Feb 13 of the Spanish Cobras that did not even result in a single Cobra getting killed, this is the pitch they delivered to get their supporters fired up to support the civil war. The Garcia supporters, on the other hand, viewed this as a treasonous act and wanted vengeance for this. After Tuffy Bum was killed Little Bum took over leadership and guided the Twilight Zone branch into the war.
In the spring of 1999, the Maniac Latin Disciples and Spanish Cobra leadership decided it was finally time to end this vicious war between them and hold a peace conference at the YMCA located at 1834 North Lawndale Ave in the Logan Square neighborhood. Leaders of both Maniac street gangs like MLDs, YLO Disciples, Maniac Campbell Boys and Latin Stylers showed up, and leaders of the Insane family such as Spanish Cobras, YLO Cobras, Ashland Vikings, C-Notes, Insane Dragons, Insane Deuces, Latin Lovers and Orquestra Albany showed up.
Peace was agreed upon right away and the bitter 1990s war of the Insanes and Maniacs was finally going to end; however, not all MLDs felt like it should end. The renegade group of MLD supporters led by “Little Bum” did not attend the meeting instead they drove around the meeting and set up lots of teenage soldiers outside the meeting. When peace was announced the teens began screaming out gang slogans and screaming about how they wanted no peace. The leaders of the gangs then left the meeting in a hurry because bad stuff was about to go down. One leader got stranded, “Carlito,” as he exited the meeting alone and when he stepped out front of the YMCA Thomas “Outlaw” Ross, a member of the MLDs, gunned him down. This brought the end not only to peace talks for the warring families but also for the whole SGD/La Tabla. That June day of 1999 brought the end of the old school gang ways as we know it (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way, P. 206).
The MLDs would end up losing several sections going into the 21st century mainly due to gentrification of hipsters and yuppies in Wicker Park, Logan Square and East Humboldt Park. The gang is still the second or third largest Latino gang in the city numbering thousands of members. It is also clear that MLDs have always operated with the same principles that were passed down from Hilter to rule as kings and tax all others involved in the drug trade and this has led to more wars for the MLDs to fight, regardless, the MLDs have proven they can dominate with having little to no allies on the streets.
Please send in old school pics. 1960s pics will be especially appreciated!
- What happened to Diablo?
- What year did things start getting bad with Spanish Cobras?
Zook Published: Updated: