The Latin Lover’s history has been told a certain way that makes them appear to be a late bloomer organization that befriended Spanish Lords and Latin Kings right off the bat all way into the mid-1980s; however, if you look at old pictures from the 1970s you will see every member of the gang throwing down the crown (disrespecting the Latin Kings). It is also said the Latin Lovers joined the People Nation in the early 1980s; however, once again any pics and graffiti from the 1980s shows pitchforks and disrespecting Latin Kings in graffiti too. I have done some research on the Latin Lovers’ early history and I believe I uncovered the true origin that contradicts the one being passed around the internet.
The story goes all the way back to the 1950s on the south side of Chicago. The Latin Lovers have always been known to be a mostly Puerto Rican gang and were founded by Puerto Ricans, that being the case, there was a “Latin Lovers” street gang identified by the Welfare Council Of Metropolitan Chicago while they worked on their project called “Hard-To-Reach Youth Project,” that was geared toward identifying the Chicago street gangs and offering them assistance at their many social service locations all throughout the city. This project was conducted from 1959 to 1962 and the first step between 1956 and 1959 was to simply identify the gangs out there. By March of 1959 the “Latin Lovers” were identified and said to hang out in from of a Simpson’s Drug Store with no address given or any other info. Phone book records from 1959 to 1961 only show one Simpson’s Food Shop located at 6201 S. Ada which is located in the West Englewood neighborhood. By the year 1960, West Englewood was 12% African American and the rest was mainly white Italians; however, just about 7 blocks north was a Puerto Rican settlement in the Back of The Yards community; therefore, the Latin Lovers may have traveled from the Back of The Yards to hang in front of the store.
Another possibility is maybe the Latin Lovers came from the Woodlawn neighborhood. Back in the 1950s Puerto Ricans did indeed settle in Woodlawn as early as the late 1940s. Woodlawn was an all-white neighborhood at the time, then as the decades progressed, African Americans began pouring in but did not take over all of Woodlawn until 1960.
The Latin Lovers were serviced by the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, located at 5480 S Kenwood Ave which is pretty much a stone throw away from the Woodlawn neighborhood; therefore, I believe the Latin Lovers came from the Woodlawn neighborhood in the 1950s and they may have moved to the Back of Yards neighborhood after African Americans took over Woodlawn. I cannot say for certain that the Latin Lovers from the south side are the same Latin Lovers that developed in the Logan Square neighborhood but it is highly likely they are the same especially since Puerto Rican migration shifted between the 1940s to the 1960s. It is also known that many gangs migrated when Latino migration occurred.
No one ever tells any tales of the Latin Lovers before the mid-1970s because nobody ever heard of them before then. Logan Square has always been the supposed neighborhood of origin for the Latin Lovers but I strongly believe they moved here from the south side when Puerto Ricans first came to Logan Square in the late 1960s, around about 1969. This is probably right around when the Latin Lovers arrived and their arch enemies were Latin Kings right off the bat, they also fought with the Gaylords of Logan Square as well.
Latin Lovers allied up with the Imperial Gangsters, in fact they became so close they would wear each other’s sweaters in respect. In 1970s photos you can see Lovers holding an IG sweater over his arm with the symbols facing upward, if they had the sweater over their arm with the patches down it would be disrespect.
The Latin Lovers are said to have recruited a gang called the Beldon Boys and the Latin Lovers had made a full appearance and became well known by 1974 at the intersection of Lyndale and Campbell. Soon after, the Latin Lovers opened up at Milwaukee and California which became their headquarters where they slugged it out with the Palmer Square Gaylords (PGL). As soon as Lyndale and Campbell opened, the Latin Lovers clashed with a nearby gang called the Spanish Lords, so there you have it the Lovers were arch enemies with the Spanish Lords and Latin Kings not allies.
In the year 1978, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Disciples (MLDs), Spanish Cobras and Latin Eagles came together to fight common enemies in a street alliance known as the “United Latino Organization” or “ULO.” The ULO also invited smaller gangs to be under its protection such as the Latin Lovers. The Latin Lovers then were able to establish a close relationship with the Latin Disciples. This relationship prompted the Latin Lovers to join the Folk Nation alliance in 1980 when they started taking in more gangs and now Latin Lovers became allies with the Simon City Royals. The Latin Lovers pledged into the Folks so much that they adopted the pitchfork as one of their main symbols, you can even see it in early 1980s graffiti, so now there you have it, they were not with the Nation of The Peoples ever in the 1980s or ever.
After joining the Folk Nation the Latin Lovers expanded into more territory at Milwaukee and Campbell and Richmond and Mclean “L-Town.” The Lovers also opened a significant branch in the 1980s in the suburb of Waukegan.
In the year 1980 a 16 year old member of the Latin Lovers named Nelson “Baby Face” Padilla began working with a crooked cop named Joseph Miedzianowski, as Miedzianowski was assisting the Latin Lovers and all the Folk Nation ULO gangs with dirty business that involved the weapons trade, the Miami-Chicago drug smuggling operation, covering up of murders, and the robbing and shaking down of People Nation gangs in the area for their drugs, money and jewelry. This dirty business not only brought the Latin Lovers lots of money but it also kept many members out of prison and solidified the Lovers with the Folk Nation alliance in 1981. Joseph Miedzianowski’s testimony in 1988 even got Padilla off the hook for major drug charges. Eventually Joseph Miedzianowski was convicted of his involvement in this (Chicago Tribune March 17, 2000). Padilla then became the leader of the Latin Lovers at this point. Here is more evidence that the Latin Lovers were not in the People Nation in 1980 because they were working with the ULO and dirty cops at this point.
In the year 1991, The ULO was in jeopardy of falling apart because the Spanish Cobras, Latin Disciples Latin Eagles and Imperial Gangsters were not getting along and getting violent with each other many of times, by 1992, full scale war was launched pitting these four gangs against each other. All four of them gave an ultimatum to their allies that they could only be allied to one of the three groups and there was no aligning with everyone.
The Latin Lovers had a tough decision since they were good pals with the Imperial Gangsters since as far back as possibly 1969, all throughout the 1970s they banged together side by side against the Latin Kings and Gaylords. But in the 1980s the Lovers grew closer to the Latin Disciples and they had bigger business with them than the IGs. The Lovers chose to ally with the “Maniac Familia” and became the “Universal Maniac Latin Lovers.” Now Latin Lovers were at war with their old allies the Imperial Gangsters but they were especially at war with the Spanish Cobras.
In 1994, things were heating up on the streets because Maniac Latin Disciples wanted more drug turf than ever before, the problem is their allies occupied much of the turf they wanted. These allies included the Latin Lovers, Latin Jivers and Milwaukee Kings. The MLDs knew they were the bigger gang so they figured they could just start selling drugs in their allies’ turf and the allies would be too afraid to do anything about it, but that plan backfired as the gangs fought back and tried to push the MLDs back a block or two. For the Latin Lovers this led to the slaying of a Latin Lover named “Cook Dog,” at the hands of the MLDs. Both organizations went before the Folk Nation/SGD board and complained. It was decided that the fair thing would be for the Lovers to kill the MLD shooter to settle things. The MLDs agreed; however, when it came time to pay up the MLDs did not produce instead they made things worse by shooting at some Latin Lovers. Nelson Padilla took it upon himself to get revenge for the killing of Cook Dog and one night he spotted a MLD named Robert Detres, then leaped out of a nearby ally and shot Detres to death. Once this happened, the Latin Lovers removed Padilla from power and placed “Rambo” and “Godfather” in full command. Rambo completely kicked Padilla out of the Latin Lovers and Padilla ended up going to prison for murder (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way P. 17 and 22).
By March of 1995 the MLDs were petitioning for removal of the Latin Lovers from the SGD La Tabla saying that they allowed a snitch to rule their organization for a long time. Rambo countered saying they eradicated Padilla and that MLDs needed to fulfill their end of the bargain. No agreement was reached and complete war was declared between the two gangs (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way P. 17 and 22).
The Latin Lovers then withdrew from the Maniac Familia and started hanging out with Spanish Cobras and Orquestra Albanies that were with the rival “Insane Familia.” The Cobras took the Latin Lovers into the Insane Familia and they became the “Universal Insane Latin Lovers.”
In later years the factions of Milwaukee and Campbell and the original set of Lyndale and Campbell would close down. The Latin Lovers withdrew forces in order to focus much more on Milwaukee and California, Richmond and Mclean and the suburb of Waukegan, after this move leadership was more stabilized.
The Latin Lovers had always been small in size but have engaged in vicious gang wars and have been known to be one of the more violent organizations in Chicago.
Please send in old school pics. 1950s or 1960s pics will be especially appreciated!
- What exact year were the Lovers founded?
- What neighborhood and what corner where they founded?
- Who was the founder? What happened to him?
- Who were the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s leaders?
- What happened to Rambo and Godfather?
- What happened to Lyndale and Campbell and what year did it fall?
- What year did Milwaukee and Campbell and Richmond and Mclean open?