|Founded||Founded in 1952 in or near West Town: Southern West Town (The Patch)|
Founded in Southern West Town near Ohio and Leavitt
|Colors||Black and Green|
|Color usage||Italian flag colors green, white and red 1952-early 1970s|
|Primary ethnicities||White (Italian)|
|Symbols||$ and Money Bag|
The C-Notes have one of the most interesting histories of any of the active Chicago street gangs. The C-Notes are indeed one of the oldest organizations on the streets today. The C-Notes had their beginning in the year 1952 in the area known as “The Patch” which is located around Smith Park which is within the West Town neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. This neighborhood was a very Italian neighborhood for a long time before the C-Notes formed at the street corner of Ohio and Leavitt and was also one of the neighborhoods were the notorious “Forty Two Gang” came from that started in 1925.
The Forty Two gang was a farm gang for future Chicago Outfit members. The gang was formed by young kids that were related to or knew important mob figures during the prohibition era and once they were old enough and proved themselves enough they would gain entry into the Outfit. This model of farming youngsters to prove themselves shed influence upon the creation of the C-Notes street gang.
The “Grand Avenue Crew” was a faction of the Chicago Outfit that operated all around Smith Park and when these mob figures were young kids, they started the C-Notes in 1952 at Ohio and Leavitt. An interesting thing is Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, a notorious Chicago Outfit member and Grand Avenue Crew member lived at Ohio and Leavitt until he ended up in prison (Rhodes July 2007 The Last Don).
At the street corner of Ohio and Leavitt the kids there were the sons of reputed Outfit members so they learned everything they needed from the Outfit such as how to operate discretely and stay out of the press. The Outfit also taught these young Italians how to make money and that is how the original founder was able to make good money and had a pocket full of $100 bills in his pockets at all times and gave the gang the name “C-Notes.” The early history of the C-Notes’ existence is cloudy because the C-Notes would cycle from gang members to Outfit associates if they were worthy enough. Their tales of being greasers on the streets around Smith Park would be long buried; however, as they grew older they mentored the young C-Notes in later generations. Two such notorious mentors are Paul Koroluk and Albert “Albie The Falcon” Vena who were both C – Notes at one time (Vena was a C-Note back in the early 1960s to early 1970s, Korolouk was one in the 1970s). These men made the news a few years ago when the authorities busted in on their burglary ring and other business.
By the late 1950s, the C-Notes were perhaps the largest gang in all the West Town area. Their earliest rivals were the Gaylords from nearby Noble Square and the Simon City Boys from West Humboldt Park. The C-Notes also got into it with Irish, Polish and German kids from Wicker Park and East Village, the fights with these youths in and around Wells High School (936 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622) led to the creation of the Playboys street gang. C-Notes would fight Playboys quite often in these early days.
In the early 1960s the C-Notes began to battle with Pulaski Park and the Sons of Satan Slaves (Later known as Ventures). There was a deep rivalry between Italian gangs like C-Notes, Gaylords, Lazy Gents and Dominos against the Irish and Polish kids in gangs like Playboys, Ventures and Pulaski Park. These were the greaser days when gangs battled over dances, girls and territory.
In the year 1964, Puerto Rican people were starting to flock into West Town and new Puerto Rican gangs were popping up all over the place. The most notorious formation was the Latin Kings that were a combination of multiple Puerto Rican gangs that came together to fight against the greasers. Now Latin Kings got together with the Warlords and Spanish Lords along with other Puerto Rican gangs to fight as one big alliance, this was a real threat to the Italians. The Italians got together and created an alliance between the Gaylords, C-Notes and Lazy Gents that they called “Gaylords, C-Notes and Gents,” or “G.C.G.” This was the beginning of a brotherhood between Gaylords and C-Notes that would last a long time. In the mean time the Polish and Irish gangs got together and created the “P.V.P” alliance as the Playboys, Ventures and Pulaski Park came together as one. G.C.G and P.V.P remained enemies.
The Gaylords were a tough gang but they also had large numbers while the C-Notes operated with smaller numbers but were known to be one tough gang to fight against. Back in the 1960s the C-Notes were on guard at the southern border of their neighborhood, and even in small numbers, the African American street gangs such as the Vice Lords from the Henry Horner projects just south, would not dare cross the railroad tracks by Kinzie Street on the south. The black gangs heavily outnumbered the C-Notes but that did not matter because the C-Notes were so vicious they would fight them bloody until every last one of them was gone.
The area was mob controlled by the Grand Avenue Crew but the main threat was the C-Notes because they were the guardians of that neighborhood south of East Village. Even when the Martin Luther King riots of 1968 stormed the west side, the thousands that marched would not cross those tracks at Kinzie Street because there was fiery hell waiting on the other side, it was always understood to never cross those tracks and not a single Vice Lord or any one else from that area ever would.
In the year 1969, the Puerto Rican gangs continued to grow in numbers and impoverished Puerto Rican families kept moving into West Town, Logan Square and Humboldt Park as the neighborhoods declined into severe poverty, filled with drugs and prostitution. It became decided that enough was enough and the G.C.G and P.V.P squashed their differences and came together as allies to battle side by side against the Puerto Rican clubs. This was the beginning of a tight relationship between Gaylords, C-Notes, P.V.P, Chi-West and Taylor Jousters.
In the year 1971, the alliance of the white gangs was taken further as more white clubs all over the northern part of the city were fed up with their neighborhoods falling apart after white flight and Puerto Rican gangs multiplying in number. Now Puerto Rican gangs were at times, victimizing young white youths in changing neighborhoods as now the white youths were becoming the minority. The P.V.P and G.C.G extended their alliance over a broader network and connected with all the white gangs including enemies like the Almighty Popes and Simon City Royals. This new alliance was called the “White Power Organization,” or “W.P.O.” The W.P.O did not necessarily mean these gangs were like brothers, it just meant they had a major cease fire between white gangs and if they chose they could back each other up against Puerto Rican and black gangs.
In the year 1973, the Gaylords, C-Notes, Taylor Jousters, and PVP all got together at a meeting on the corner of Damen and Milwaukee in the Wicker Park neighborhood to discuss a merger between these five gangs that would be known as the “United Five Organization” or UFO. This was an alliance within the W.P.O that was more of a brotherhood. This meant these five gangs wore white arm bands and roved around the city together fighting rival Puerto Rican gangs, therefore, this was more than a simple cease fire, this was a true brotherhood and this is the story of how the C-Notes got so close with Gaylords, Jousters and P.V.P for a period of time. This closeness is still felt with old schoolers that were in these clubs in the 60s, 70s and early 80s.
During the 1970s the C-Notes grew into the hundreds in membership as they expanded further in the Smith Park area at corners such as: Erie and Leavitt, Superior and Washtenaw, Superior and California, Ohio and Claremont, Ohio and Ashland, Race and Oakley, Race and Damen, Huron and Tallman, Huron and Campbell, Ohio and Hoyne Grand and Rockwell, and then the entire area of Grand Ave to Ohio Street and California all the way to Damen Ave was all C-Notes. The C-Notes then opened a corner in the Wicker Park section of West Town at Hirsch and Western. Having a reputation and being a part of the UFO greatly helped the C-Notes expand all around their original neighborhood especially after the Gaylords left the area by the mid 1970s. At some point the C-Notes began to take in Puerto Rican members in the 1970s, I’m not sure which part of the decade this began but by the mid-70s there was for sure Puerto Rican members that were some really tough members. There may have been Puerto Rican members in the 1960s but I don’t know if that is accurate.
In 1976, the C-Notes opened up in the Jefferson Park neighborhood. Members of the C-Notes moved here to get away from the rough streets of the west side and set up smoother business with the Outfit. This section was opened by the “Hobo Brothers” who actually were members that were Latino. In the 1970s, as racist as the C-Notes were, they began taking in Latinos into their organization although not many. Eventually the C-Notes took Argyle and Lavergne, Central Ave and Giddings and Elston and Leclaire. Around the same time the Jefferson Park chapter opened. C-Notes also opened in the suburb of Elmwood Park “Spaghetti Hill.”
In April, 1978 the Folk and People Nation alliances were drawn up in the prison systems and this brought the Simon City Royals and Almighty Insane Popes into the Folk Nation alliance with Spanish Cobras, Latin Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Orquestra Albany, Latin Eagles and others. The People Nation was no lessor of the evils because they had the C-Notes’ worst enemies the Latin Kings under that alliance. The UFO declined to join either side of the new alliances, but soon they would feel the pressure by 1980 when several key members of the Gaylords found themselves incarcerated and outnumbered because the UFO was not as strong in the prison system.
The Gaylords along with the Insane Deuces decided to join the People Nation in 1981 while behind bars but the alliance was not blabbed about in the streets. Latin Kings and Gaylords were now within the same alliance and this caused wars to die down in the early 1980s (except in the Lincoln Square neighborhood), the C-Notes were still all about war with the Latin Kings and this was the beginning of differences building between C-Notes and Gaylords.
In 1982, a new chapter would start in the C-Notes legacy that started with a conquest for more territory outside of southern West Town and Smith Park. The C-Notes now opened turf at Beldon and Normandy in the Montclaire neighborhood and Addison and Harlem in the Dunning neighborhood. The Sayre Park Gaylords were right nearby these two neighborhoods at Grand and Harlem. Then the C-Notes opened turf at Olcott and Roscoe in the Dunning neighborhood which is also where Gaylords were colonizing at the same time. After almost 20 years of a strong alliance between C-Notes and Gaylords was now down the drain as these two gangs were now infringing on each other’s turf which caused an all out war. The war was bloody but never became deadly. The favorite spot for Gaylords and C-Notes to duke it out was at the Axel Skating rink in the suburb of Norridge, IL at 4510 N. Harlem Ave (now closed down since Halloween 1985). At this skating rink the two gangs would beat each other bloody in legendary gang brawls between 1982 and 1983.
The C-Notes would also expand into new neighborhoods in the 1980s that they never had turf in before. The Notes colonized the Roscoe Village section of the North Center neighborhood at Leavitt and Grace. The Notes would also advance into the Bucktown section of the Logan Square neighborhood at Medill and Oakley. From the Jefferson Park section the C-Notes would open in the nearby Forest Glen neighborhood at Cicero Ave and Gunnison and Carmen and Lavergne.
In the late 1980s “Lucky” took control of the C-Notes. Lucky was known to be a very violent and ruthless gang leader who savagely enforced gang rules and brutalized his enemies. Lucky was feared by fellow C-Notes but no so much respected because he was often reckless with his violence, this caused many C-Notes to leave Ohio and Leavitt and take up residence in the Jefferson Park section that was now being ran by “Mo Mo.” (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way, P. 82).
In the late 1980s, Some C-Notes had family members that happened to be from the rival Harrison Gents street gang this lead to some Cocaine deals with the Harrison Gents but it did mean there was an alliance between the two. Lucky’s main contact was a Harrison Gent named “Coco” who Lucky began moving kilos of Cocaine with.
In the very early 1990s Lucky’s deals with the Harrison Gents went a little sour when Lucky robbed Coco from the Gents over a kilo of cocaine, but no war was brought about luckily and when Lucky went into prison he was hoping the C-Notes’ application could be processed to join Folks and be a part of the “La Tabla” council on the SGD (Spanish Growth And Development) board. The application was not processed due to the fact that Lucky ripped the Gents off and that Gents were encroaching on C-Note territory causing a war on the streets.
After Lucky went in, a Puerto Rican member named “Joey Bags” took over leadership of the C-Notes. Joey Bags wanted nothing to do with the Harrison Gents and let war ensue, instead bags had some friends that were Insane Dragons. It was now at this point that the C-Notes were reconsidering joining the Folk Nation and joining the “Insane Familia” which was a new alliance of Latin Folks gangs that consisted of the Spanish Cobras, Insane Dragons, YLO Cobras, Orquestra Albany, Ashland Vikings and at that time the Harrison Gents were members. The war with the Harrison Gents would stall the C-Notes’ application to get into the Insane Familia.
The C-Notes had also broken out into a massive gang war with the Satan Disciples who were aggressively colonizing the C-Notes’ neighborhood. The two worst enemies and arch rivals of the C-Notes were now Latin Kings and Satan Disciples. The SDs sat at one of the top seats of the Folk Nation and La Tabla so this complicated the C-Notes’ application even more. The Insane Dragons were waiting at the helm for when the C-Notes would be accepted.
In the year 1995, the C-Notes finally got into the Folk Nation alliance and the Insane Familia now that the Harrison Gents left the Insane Familia and the fact that the Insane Dragons were avid sponsors. There were complications as I explained earlier about the Notes getting on SGD because of interalliance wars. In the mean time the Insane Familia got to take advantage of the fact that the Notes were heavily connected to the Italian Mafia, this especially made the Spanish Cobras happy. In prison, on of the former C-Notes turned Chicago Outfit was sharing a cell with Francisco “Pimp Daddy” Garcia, who was a high ranking member of the Maniac Latin Disciples. Since former C-Notes were now Italian Mafia members they acted as the go between guys tying C-Notes, Outfit business and the Folk Nation together by communicating with Pimp Daddy.
After joining the Folk Nation, things were getting bad by Ohio and Leavitt as Satan Disciples and Latin Kings were moving in fast and ready to take the neighborhoods over. Now that Lucky was in prison, the Jefferson Park C-Notes cleared out and moved back to Ohio and Leavitt to protect it from invaders. The C-Notes completely re-solidified O-L once again. Now that this neighborhood was secure and as the later 1990s ushered in, the C-Notes would find better ways to make money and deal with enemies while staying jail free.
The C-Notes hooked heavily into the ecstasy business, selling thousands of dollars worth all over the city and suburbs. Before long the C-Notes became the main supplier of the ecstasy business and they had several runners all over the city. One of the biggest investments the C-Notes made was in a crew called the “X-Men.” They supplied these guys with the ecstasy and these guys knew exactly how to spread it out. The C-Notes were turning over about 240 pounds of ecstasy a year. They would get the ecstasy from Las Vegas and bring it back to Chicago and even distribute it in between. The drug was undetectable by police dogs so the Notes got away with it (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way, P. 174). Law enforcement was still new to the drug back in the 1990s so they did not have complex law enforcement methods to take down the dealers yet.
The C-Notes also opened nightclubs around the city and city suburbs to move their ecstasy and invest in their legit businesses. The C-Notes were moving ecstasy in these clubs: Zero Gravity, The Mission and Nitro. Any of those sound familiar? Did you ever buy X at any of those clubs when you were a teen? If you did you bought it from the C-Notes whether it was directly or indirectly. Ever heard of the nightclubs XTC in downtown Chicago, or The Industry in North Lake? If you did or if you ever partied there in the late 1990s or early 2000s, you were in a nightclub owned and controlled by the C-Notes street gang (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way, P. 176).
The C-Notes stayed out of a lot of messy and costly gang wars in the later 1990s and into the millennium by using the internet to their advantage. In the earliest days of the internet in the late 1990s gang members would hop into chat rooms and net bang on each other. No one would ever actually know who was talking shit to them, all they would see is that a user was on there representing a rival gang. The C-Notes would go buy a lap top and go to an internet connected establishment. They would hop into one of those chat rooms and act as if they were a member of a rival gang and taunt another rival. For example, since the Notes hated Latin Kings and Satan Disciples, and both of those rivals were trying to encroach on C-Note turf, they would hop on the chat room and represent as a Latin King from the neighborhood and taunt the SDs on there, then in the same chat or another chat on another day they would act as a Harrison Gent and taunt Maniac Latin Disciples (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way, P. 180). Once everyone was fired up, the trash talk would cause a real life shooting in the streets. Going with my example let’s say the C-Notes go into the chat and say they are a Latin King from Huron and Hoyne and they begin taunting a SD from Huron and Wood. The Notes then challenge the SDs to come to Huron and Hoyne and fight. Later that night SDs show up at Huron and Hoyne and start shooting up a house of a known Latin King gang members killing two members inside, then the C-Note members that are police officers are tipped off and show up to arrest 3 members of the SDs for murder, and there you have it, 5 enemy gang members are out of the picture and C-Note operations can run smoother. That is just a hypothetical example of how this happened, but in reality my fake story is extremely similar to what really happened. This is a lesson that anyone should learn to never take the internet too seriously and that net banging is just net banging and you never know whom you are talking trash back and forth with on the other end and if you get fired up and go get revenge for how their words hurt you, it could bring you into a trap!
The C-Notes stayed out of jail by bribing police officers and public officials just like the Italian Mafia. When the Notes found out they were about to get busted, thanks to their uniformed C-Note members in law enforcement’s tips, the Notes would agree to give up stock piles of guns to the police by telling them exactly where to pick up the guns. The cop would go get the guns, brag he got guns off the streets, become a hero, no one was arrested and the deal was done.
The C-Notes would eventually get accepted onto the SGD board in 1999 but within months after their acceptance the SGD disbanded due to the shooting death of a high ranking Maniac Latin Disciple at a peace conference between Maniacs and Insanes in the Logan Square neighborhood. Many high ranking members of the C-Notes went to prison in the 1990s and Bags left the C-Notes in 1996 leaving Mo Mo to run things until he eventually got out. The C-Notes still retained most of their West Town original turf including Ohio and Leavitt going into the 21st Century.
For a great read that provides lots of C-Note stories and history and the connection to the mob, pick up the book “The Insane Chicago Way: The Daring Plan by Chicago Gangs to Create a Spanish Mafia” by John Hagedorn. I hate reading and never read but I read this one cover to cover.
Please send in old school pics. 1950s or 1960s pics will be especially appreciated!
- Who was the founder, what happened to him? If it needs to be a big secret, a nickname will be ok
- Who were the leaders in 1950s and 1960s and what years did they lead? Nicknames are ok
- What year did the first Puerto Ricans join the C-Notes?
- What exact years did Lucky run the C-Notes?
- What caused the war with the Gaylords back in 1982?