Latin Counts

Founded Founded c. 1955 in or near Lower West Side: Pilsen
Formerly known as

Texans 1955-1957, Sons of Mexico City 1957-1959, Latin Counts 1959-1978

Affiliations ;
Colors Black and Red
Primary ethnicities Latino (Mexican)
Symbols Count Dracula, Knight's Helmet, and Cross
Symbol usage

Cross with 5 slashes above it 1978-present

Status Active

The Latin Counts are a major part of Pilsen history and were the first Mexican street gang to exist on the streets of Pilsen.  When Mexican families were first moving into Pilsen they were harassed by corrupt police officers; a group of youths came together led by “Castellano” to help protect the families from these policeman and from an Italian gang called the Taylor Street Boys.  Since the youths mainly migrated from the state of Texas they named their group the “Texans.”  Castellano was the founder of the Texans and activated the Texans at the intersection of 16th and Loomis.

In the year 1957, Castellano and the rest of the Texans no longer felt the organization should be called the Texans anymore because they felt more at home on the streets of Pilsen and they felt they needed to pay more attention to Mexican pride, therefore, they changed their name to the “Sons of Mexico City.”

In the year 1959, more Mexican families were migrating to the Pilsen neighborhood primarily along the 18th Street corridor, this brought new gangs to migrate into Pilsen from the Near West Side community such as Ambrose or new gangs were founded on the streets of Pilsen; the Sons of Mexico City now had more rivals.  Castellano stepped down and left the Sons of Mexico City that year and 16 year old “J.E.” took over as the new leader of the organization.  J.E. and the rest declared it was time to move on from naming themselves after their homeland and instead they adopted a name that was more like a club name.  J.E. admired the name of a Polish gangs from the Back of the Yards community called the Polish Counts.  J.E. then invented the new name of “Latin Counts.”  Another prominant member of the Latin Counts named “Casy” created the knights helmet emblem for the organization in 1959.  He got the idea from Knight Brand matches that had a picture of a red knight on the cover of the matchbox.  He also got the idea from a nearby church.The Latin Counts were first documented by social services in 1959 as they visited 17th and Racine at the Howell House.

By 1961, the Latin Counts began battling Ambrose viciously for control of 18th street as Ambrose started to move into the neighborhood in higher numbers. the Latin Counts spread to 18th and Loomis as a new group of younger Counts formed.  The original Counts became known as Senior Latin Counts in 1961 while the younger new members were just simply Latin Counts.  One of the primary newer Counts was “Chubby” that joined in 1961.  “E.U.” took over leadership of the younger Counts in 1961.  The Counts would end up going against the Racine Boys of 18th and Racine and the Morgan Deuces of 18th and Morgan, so now the Counts had their hands full with gang wars, nevertheless, they fought those wars successfully in the 1960s and membership swelled by the late 1960s and Latin Count territory was now between 16th Street on the north, Cullerton Street on the south, Racine Avenue on the east and Paulina Street on the west which is a pretty big territory.

In 1966, E.U. stepped down from a leadership position and “Big S” took over leadership of the Junior Counts.

In the 1970s the Latin Counts grew to the point where Counts and Ambrose became the largest gangs in Pilsen, mainly East Pilsen.  Latin Counts, Ambrose and Satan Disciples successfully kept the Latin Kings smaller in the Pilsen area and the Counts alone successfully kept the Two Sixs out of Pilsen.  Latin Kings and Latin Counts were built to be enemies in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1974, J.E. stepped down from leadership of the Senior Latin Counts and Big S was basically running the whole organization at that point.

On November 11, 1978 the Folk and People nation alliances were formed in the Illinois prison systems starting in the Pontiac Correctional Facility.  This unity brought together the biggest and/or oldest of street gangs in Chicago, on that list was the Latin Counts to be taken into the People nation alliance as they became tightly aligned with the Latin Kings due to their common enemies that were aligned within the rival Folk NationAmbrose and Satan Disciples joining Folks was definitely a selling point to get the Counts into the People alliance which would cause them to reluctantly accept Latin Kings as their allies.  An alliance with the the EL Rukns (Black P Stones) became quite strong once the People Nation was created.  I have heard that deep in Latin Count Literature they can be referred to as “Latin Count Stones” but I do not know if this is true, regardless the Counts became real close to the EL Rukns.

In the early 1980s, Big S stepped down from leadership and I’m not quite sure who was running it after that and forward.

As the 1980s rolled in the Latin Counts began expanding outside of the Pilsen neighborhood as they grew into the corner of Coulter and Western in the Heart of Chicago section (or you can say West Pilsen).  They opened a big set at 35th and Damen in the Mckinley Park neighborhood.  They would soon expand into the Brighton Park neighborhood at 42nd and Fairfield.

In the early 1980s the Counts expanded into the city of Detroit Michigan where the organization grew like wild fire, the Counts also expanded into many other states in the U.S. especially Indiana.  The Counts also settled heavily in the Chicago land suburbs with prominent sets in Chicago Heights, West Chicago, Addison, Cicero, and Romeoville just to name a few into the later 80s.  The Cicero branch was especially buck wild as they opened “The Red Zone” which is Roosevelt Road to 18th Street and Austin to 58th Ave, and they also opened in the Grant Works section at 14th and 58th Ave.  All along the way the Latin Counts aggressively attacked rival Folk nation gangs especially by the late 1980s and into the early 1990s; they were known for gunning down enemies and smashing on them.  The Counts were also great fighters when it came to one on one fights or rumbling as a group against another group.  The Counts of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s taught the younger Counts how to be fearless and to take what should be theirs and this philosophy led the Counts to dominate a lot of new territory.

The Latin Count relations with Latin Kings was a tough one to swallow in the 1980s for both gangs.  The Counts were perhaps the second largest Latino street gang to join the People alliance in 1978 and relations with Latin Kings needed to immediately be positive in the joint back in the late 1970s, but in the streets it was another story as both gangs still hated each other, it took the People Nation alliance being enforced on the streets clearly in 1981 for both gangs to get along better.  Kings and Counts did establish a decent relationship in the mid-1980s, but by 1990 they began to slowly dislike each other again mainly because of harsh conflicts in Cicero that caused a ripple between both organization all through Chicago area because of the bitter resentment in Cicero in 1990.

In the year 1991, it was starting to become clear that Latin Counts and Latin Kings did not like each other.  Back in the 1960s and 1970s the two gangs used to slug it out in the streets especially when Latin Kings (Coulter Kings faction) wanted a piece of 18th street.  The Counts started their aggressive conquest of taking over new sections and new suburbs that increased by the later 1980s much to the dissatisfaction of the Latin Kings.  The Counts were the other large Latino People Nation gang that south side youths and suburban kids identified with and were valued the same as Latin Kings to many youths and this created recruitment and drug turf competition between the two gangs because they were the largest Latino People Nation gangs.

Most of the times you would see Kings and Counts hanging out in the 80s were in the suburbs and other states other than that it was just not full scale war, but sometimes in the city they would break out into a big rumble or be pals on some days. I just said the Counts and Kings got along better in the suburbs but it was in the suburbs where all hell began to break loose.  Chicago Heights was ripe with opportunity for gangs to sell drugs and recruit and both Kings and Counts wanted to dominate by 1990, this led them both to not like each other and began disrespecting each other and fist fighting.  In 1991, the Latin Counts finally got sick of it and just went up to a Latin King and gunned him down, after this the Kings and Counts engaged in the bloodiest interalliance gang war in Chicago history, they hate each other as much as they hate Folks. The war was welcomed in South Chicago and South Deering because both gangs were in heavy competition for drug turf.

In the same year of 1991, the Latin Counts were having disputes with their closest ally the Bishops in the suburb of Cicero.  It all started with a party in which a Bishop and Count were arguing then got into a fist fight.  The Bishop would not calm down after the altercation and later that night he strolled to the outside of the Latin Count gang members’ home and shouted disrespectful things about the Latin Counts then started shooting at the house but did not hit his intended target instead he shot the gang members’ girlfriend in the chest, she died instantly.

Later on that night a Latin Count named “Rhino” gunned down a Bishop named “Chuco” to avenge the death of the Counts’ girlfriend.  Now the “Bishop Count Nation” or “BCN” was no more.  After all those years of partying together, backing each other up in fights and being willing to die for each other for over two decades came to screeching halt as the two would now engage in a vicious and unforgiving gang war within the People alliance that was not fixable except maybe in prison. In the midst of all these gang wars the Latin Counts established a closer alliance with the Conservative Vice Lords and the Spanish Vice Lords since they all hated Latin Kings, Bishops and of course all Folks.  The Latin Counts could now sometimes use the cane in their literature and symbols if they wanted to.

The Latin Counts opened territory in the Back of The Yards section of the New City neighborhood at 48th and Morgan.  The Counts would also expand into the Marquette Park neighborhood at 73rd and Richmond and 71st and Albany.  The Latin Counts most successful conquests were in the South Deering and South Chicago neighborhoods where they opened lots of territory and recruited hundreds if not thousands more members.

The Latin Counts would eventually lose territory in Brighton Park and the Back of The Yards neighborhoods because they wanted more concentration in South Deering, South Chicago and Pilsen.  Some gentrification and heavier police presence got the Latin Counts off of 18th and Ashland and after that no gang settled in this section due to too much attention from police and citizens.  Overall the Latin Counts would not loose very much turf over their years even though they have had thousands of members to control; they kept things organized and ruthless.

Please send in old school pics,  1950s and 1960s pics would be extra appreciated!

Questions:

  1. What year did Marquette Park open?  What year did it close and why?
  2. What year did Mckinley Park open?
  3. What year did Cicero open?
  4. What year did Chicago Heights open?
  5. What year did Kings and Counts go to war before the People nation existed and why?